Oral Health News

Does Toothpaste Need to Foam for it to Work?

Every day, more and more people are making the switch to all-natural oral care essentials for the sake of their health. But to holistic newbies, toothpaste without foam may seem like it’s just not doing its job. 

Since it doesn’t get that signature bubbly foam that we’re all used to, it’s normal to wonder if the product is effective. You might worry that your natural toothpaste won’t be protecting you from cavities, and you’ll be left with a surprise dental bill.

So, does toothpaste need to foam for it to work? We’re going to answer this puzzling question by looking at the most common added chemical that makes foam and figure out if it’s actually necessary.

What makes toothpaste foam?

The most frequently used foaming agent in regular toothpastes is sodium lauryl sulfate, aka “SLS”. SLS is a surfactant that’s responsible for creating the bountiful foam we’re all familiar with.  It’s also in many other self-care products we use on a daily basis.

What does SLS do?

SLS is a surfactant ingredient that works to bind together oil and water to trap oil-based dirt so it can be rinsed away with water.  It is found in many different products besides toothpaste — most cleaning and beauty products that are foamy, bubbly or soapy contain SLS.  

The foaming action also makes the product seem more attractive and marketable. Commercials for shampoo, toothpaste, and surface cleaner all tout the satisfying feel and look of foam.  It’s so widely used in everyday personal care essentials that people have come to expect it.

Is SLS harmful?

There are 3 main concerns with SLS: irritationhealth effects, and environmental effects.


SLS is a known irritant. It mainly irritates the skin and has left many users with oral irritation. People have reported canker sores, burning sensations, and tooth sensitivity with prolonged use of toothpaste containing SLS.

Additionally, it can also irritate the nose, throat, and lungs when inhaled.

Health effects

This chemical is a possible carcinogen.

In particular, SLS that’s been exposed to 1,4-dioxane (a “forever chemical”) is potentially carcinogenic. A study found that lab animals exposed to SLS laced with this chemical developed cancer.

It’s also a potential endocrine disruptor, which means it can alter the body’s hormone levels.

Environmental effects

This chemical also has environmental implications. 

When we use shampoo, soap, and toothpaste containing SLS, it goes down the drain and re-enters our waterways. Once present in the water, it can sicken wildlife and inhibit the growth of algae counts in freshwater.

Additionally, the way SLS is produced is potentially harmful to the planet. SLS is derived from either petroleum or palm oil

Petroleum — Extracting petroleum from the earth can cause oil spills, and in most cases, the extraction disrupts the natural habitat of wildlife and disrupts communities. 

Palm oil — The palm oil industry is controversial because it’s associated with deforestation. Entire forests are clear-cut to make way for palm tree plantations. 

Is SLS necessary?

To determine whether or not SLS is a necessary additive to toothpaste, we should look at two things: 1) what is the purpose of toothpaste itself and 2) what is the purpose of SLS in toothpaste.

1) Quite obviously toothpaste is meant to clean teeth — removing food particles and plaque. Some toothpastes are better than others at removing plaque, but the purpose of toothpaste is much more than simply to fill your mouth with foam for 2 minutes while brushing.

2) The SLS chemical has two purposes in toothpaste:  create foam to help the product expand and to distribute the product throughout your mouth to collect and remove debris.  It is indeed effective at expanding which helps the toothpaste cover all surfaces of your mouth. But do you know what else helps distribute your toothpaste? Your toothbrush! Practicing an effective brushing routine will get the product where it needs to go while also removing more plaque.  

So to answer the question, proper brushing technique and an effective toothpaste clearly make SLS an unnecessary ingredient.  When it comes to cleaning and removing plaque, there are other gentle and more effective cleaning agents — all without the potential risks associated with SLS.

Now that you know you don’t need SLS you may be wondering how to find the most effective and safe natural toothpaste.  Introducing new Herbal Toothpowder Tabs — the next generation dentifrice.

What makes Herbal Toothpowder Tabs different from other tabs?

DrTung’s Herbal Toothpowder Tabs are unlike any toothpaste tablet on the market.  In addition to using safer, natural cleansing agents our tabs are crafted with Ayurvedic and organic-based ingredients that support your entire oral microbiome to give you deep cleaning, fresh breath, balanced saliva and cavity protection.  

SLS-Free cleaning agents: 
Sodium bicarbonate (an antibacterial agent that breaks up plaque and kills bacteria in the mouth), calcium carbonate (mild abrasive that also acts as a stain remover and adds just a touch of that foamy feeling), bentonite (fine particles of clay that act as a mild abrasive to physically remove plaque).  These powerhouse ingredients offer you all the cleaning power with none of the harmful effects of SLS.  No foam necessary!

Active Ayurvedic Ingredients:
Organic Neem—naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it effective against plaque-causing bacteria and gum disease.  Neem maintains a pH level in the saliva and protects against cavities.

Organic Miswak—naturally antibacterial and anticariogenic. Miswak branches come from the Salvadora Persica tree, and the branches have a fibrous flesh that physically removes plaque. Miswak branches are actually the “O.G.” toothbrush, with twigs resembling a toothbrush. They don’t call it the “toothbrush tree” for nothing! (added benefit—it’s also antiplaque)

Organic Triphala—a blend of 3 different dried fruits that freshen the breath and have antibacterial qualities for effective plaque control.

Cavity Protection:
Organic Xylitol—helps prevent dental cavities and inflammatory gum diseases and starves harmful bacteria, reducing plaque buildup and tooth decay.

Organic Lemongrass—helps prevent bacterial accumulation due to its antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial properties.  The antioxidant properties help prevent formation of plaque and assist in plaque removal.

The Takeaway

Contrary to popular belief, toothpaste doesn’t need to make a cappuccino-like foam for it to work. If you’re trying to get the toothpaste where it needs to go and kill bacteria, you have other gentler options.

Your biggest defense against tooth decay and gum disease is a proper brushing routine with an effective toothpaste—not SLS!

When you look at the harms and risks of SLS on your body and the planet, it’s clear to see that the cons outweigh the pros. Just say “no” to an overdose of foam!

Shop our Herbal Toothpowder Tabs now—the effective SLS-free toothpaste that’s totally comfortable to use.




Penny Westergaard - 07/5/2023 10:11:50

Very informative - thanks!!!

Product added to wishlist

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