Historical sources indicate that the ancient Egyptians cleaned their teeth with a mixture of ash, myrrh, broken eggshells and pumice stone. There is evidence that around 2600 BC, there were Egyptian doctors specialized in dental treatments. In comparison, the ancient Arabs began chewing on Miswak Sticks to clean their teeth. Miswak comes from branches of the Salvadora Persica tree. These sticks are still for sale, but sprigs of other trees such as the olive and walnut tree are also used.

In 1850, an American dentist created the first toothpaste, which bore resemblance to our modern toothpastes. At the end of the 19th century, he founded a company and began manufacturing and selling toothpaste in tubes. At the beginning of the 20th century, tooth powder (without fluoride) hit the Dutch market. Toothpaste with fluoride arrived in 1975, marking a huge breakthrough. Research showed that fluoride needed to be used regularly to have and maintain an effect. It was quickly added to almost all toothpastes, and certain studies have indicated that this led to a spectacular improvement in Dutch dental health over the last decades. We now know that brushing without fluoride is also an option, provided you brush with toothpaste that contains the right active substitute ingredients. These include xylitol, lactoferrin and, in our case, also oxygen.

Did you know that…
94% of Dutch people consider proper oral care to be just as important as a healthy diet and good mental health?

What does today’s toothpaste contain?

Toothpaste has changed significantly during the course of its development: moving from powders to paste. All modern toothpastes include several basic ingredients so that the product meets consumer expectations. These include a polishing agent for removing tarnish, surfactants to make the product foam, wetting agents to protect it from drying out, and a binding agent to achieve the right consistency.

How does toothpaste foam?

To allow to toothpaste to foam, the substances Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) or Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are almost always used. Both substances are so-called ‘surfactants’, or surface-active substances. These are substances that can be used in combination with water to dissolve oil or grease, so you can also clean your skin with them. They lower the surface tension and thereby produce foam so that the product spreads more easily. Blue®m toothpaste does not contain SLS and therefore will not foam up. Some people, especially people from France, find this very strange. There they are accustomed to very foamy toothpastes. However, we found no need to add SLS to our toothpastes.

SLS is often used in skincare products

The big disadvantage of surfactants is that in addition to excess sebum and dirt, they can also strip the skin’s natural oils. This can disrupt the protective barrier of the skin and may lead to dry, flaky skin. You may also experience pimples and red spots. The effect of SLS on the skin depends on several factors: the concentration of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in the cosmetic product, the composition of the cosmetic product, the temperature in which the product is used, how often the product is used and how long the product remains on the skin (Goffin et al., 1996; Lindberg et al., 1991). This means that the less a product is used, the less irritation can arise. Skin sensitivity varies, so one person might experience more irritation from this substance than another. Younger people are generally more sensitive to exposure to SLS, in particular, because they have thinner skin (Basketter et al, 1996; Schwindt et al., 1998). Skin damage from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is commonly used in scientific research to then be able to measure whether and to what extent certain substances are able to repair the skin (Lee & Maibach, 1995; Wilhelm et al., 1994).

Is SLS carcinogenic?

No. You can find many stories online about the potential dangers of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, but despite the negative reports, there is no scientific evidence that this substance is carcinogenic or toxic. It can only cause skin irritation. Still, our advice is to limit the use of skin care products with SLS.

Why does blue®m use SLS in its mouthwash and oral foam?

sls

At blue®m, we often get asked why our mouthwash and oral foam contain SLS. The purpose of these products is to keep your gums in optimal condition. Their effect is due to the combination of ingredients: active oxygen, lactoferrin, xylitol and SLS. That may sound strange after what you’ve just read. But blue®m uses very low doses, just enough to achieve the cleansing and foaming effect. Of course, the SLS in the mouthwash and oral foam is not intended to be smeared on your skin, so it is harmless. Would you like to avoid SLS altogether? We also have a mouthwash without SLS: oxygen fluid.

And, if you’re wondering after reading all of this… No, SLS does not dry out your mouth.

blue®m: an oral care brand with a mission

Blue®m is a Dutch company with a mission to help people to achieve and maintain a healthy mouth. It’s not just any oral care company, but rather a group of evangelists who believe that oxygen is the key to good health. Oxygen has been used in medicine for centuries to help heal wounds and fight ‘bad’ bacteria. Based on this science, Dr Peter Blijdorp and the blue®m team have developed a line of oral care products containing active oxygen from organic honey, among other things. Oxygen for health!

Want to learn more about the ingredients blue®m uses? Read more about the blue®m ingredients.