There’s a lot of misinformation circulating on the internet about the use of glycerin in toothpaste. Some claim that it coats the teeth and prevents the absorption of minerals, leading to the question: is glycerin in toothpaste bad, and does it prevent remineralization?
In this blog post, we’ll address these concerns, debunk the myths surrounding the safety of glycerin in toothpaste, and discuss why glycerin gets added to toothpaste in the first place. Check out my podcast episode on this topic as well: Episode #65 Glycerin in Toothpaste: What you need to know.
Does glycerin prevent remineralization?
The claim that glycerin can coat the teeth and prevent remineralization has been a topic of debate in the natural health and wellness community. The theory behind this claim is that when glycerin is present in toothpaste or other oral care products, it can leave a coating on the teeth that inhibits the natural process of remineralization, which is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and preventing cavities.
The idea appears to have originated from the work of Dr. Gerard Judd, a retired chemistry professor who published a book in 1996 called “Good Teeth, Birth to Death.” In the book, Dr. Judd argues that glycerin is a harmful ingredient in toothpaste because it coats the teeth and prevents them from absorbing the minerals they need to stay strong.
In my extensive research, I have never found a study that supports Dr. Judd’s theory that glycerin impedes remineralization.
The concern with glycerin and remineralization is that it may prevent the absorption of minerals by the enamel, which is a natural process that helps to strengthen and repair the teeth. However, since glycerin is water-soluble, it does not create a permanent barrier that prevents minerals from being absorbed by the enamel. Instead, any glycerin coating that may be present on the teeth can be quickly and easily washed away by saliva or water, allowing minerals to reach the enamel and support the remineralization process.
It is important to note that while glycerin is a common ingredient in toothpaste, it is not the only factor that can affect enamel remineralization. Other factors such as diet, oral hygiene habits, and mouth breathing also play a large role.
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Why is glycerin a common toothpaste ingredient?
The purpose of glycerin in toothpaste ingredients is primarily to serve as a binder, humectant, and texture enhancer. Here’s a breakdown of these functions:
1. Binder: Glycerin helps bind all the ingredients in toothpaste together, ensuring a consistent texture and preventing the components from separating. It contributes to the overall stability of the toothpaste formula.
2. Humectant: Glycerin acts as a humectant, which means it helps retain moisture in the toothpaste. This property prevents the toothpaste from drying out and becoming difficult to use, maintaining its smooth consistency even after being exposed to air when the tube is opened.
3. Texture enhancer: Glycerin contributes to the smooth and creamy texture of toothpaste, making it easier to spread on the toothbrush and apply to the teeth. It also helps create a pleasant mouthfeel during brushing.
Glycerin is also a key ingredient in artificial saliva, which is a lifesaver for individuals suffering from dry mouth due to aging or cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Without saliva, these individuals would be at a much higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Artificial saliva, primarily composed of glycerin, helps maintain a neutral pH in the mouth and provides a temporary substitute for natural saliva, protecting teeth from cavities and other oral health issues.
In addition to its use in artificial saliva, glycerin is also commonly found in toothpaste as a binder and humectant. It helps give toothpaste its smooth texture and prevents it from drying out. While there are alternative binders like silica that can be used in toothpaste, glycerin is not considered harmful, and its presence in toothpaste should not be a cause for concern.
What ingredients should I look for in toothpaste?
Doesn’t matter if we spit it out—I believe it is crucial to research the ingredients that are in your toothpaste. While social media and the internet can be helpful sources of information, they can also contribute to the spread of misinformation. Always verify the sources of information you come across and consult with dental professionals if you have questions or concerns about specific products or ingredients.
When choosing a toothpaste, focus on finding one that nourishes and supports your oral microbiome rather than disinfecting it. Look for toothpaste ingredients like hydroxyapatite and prebiotics that support your teeth and gums’ overall health. Avoid products containing harsh chemicals, pesticides, and essential oils that can disrupt your oral microbiome and lead to other oral health issues.
Should you avoid glycerin in toothpaste?
In conclusion, glycerin in toothpaste is not harmful to your teeth and does not prevent remineralization. It’s essential to stay informed about the latest dental research and be cautious about the information you find online. Remember that glycerin is a valuable ingredient in artificial saliva and serves a useful purpose in toothpaste.
That said, if you do choose to avoid glycerin, my favorite glycerin-free toothpastes are listed in the Recommended Products section of my website.