Gluten Free. For those with Celiac Disease, it’s a way of life thrust upon them. For others, it’s the latest diet trend to follow. Whether or not it’s an effective diet isn’t the point of this blog, however, what we’re talking about today is gluten free toothpaste. Does it matter to anyone without celiac disease and how important it is to those with it? Let’s find out!
We would like to make a note here and say that we are aware there are those with gluten sensitivity that do not have celiac disease. To avoid sounding redundant, we will lump everyone under the “celiac” umbrella as the distinction doesn’t apply in kinds of toothpaste.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a substance in cereal grains that handles the elastic texture of the dough. This mixture of two proteins acts like glue that helps food to hold it’s shape and hold it together. Gluten finds itself in tons of food, even some you wouldn’t expect. When it comes to gluten, there are three big offenders that corner the market in food products, Wheat, Barley, and Rye. A food or beverage made with these three products will spell bad times for our celiac friends and serve as a turnoff for the fad dieters.
There’s Gluten in Toothpaste?
As it turns out, there isn’t much of a difference between standard off the shelf toothpaste and gluten-free toothpaste. The active ingredient is still Xylitol which helps prevent cavities and stimulate saliva production. Baking Soda is present in both which acts as an abrasive additive that helps remove stains and neutralize acids. Calcium phosphate is there which combats tartar buildup and can aid in rebuilding enamel and replenishing minirals that your teeth may be lacking. So where’s the difference? Well, it comes into play somewhere you might not expect.
The place that gluten shows up in toothpaste is the thickening agent. These are corn or other grain-based starches which can cause problems for those with celiacs. Yes that’s right, the ingredient that makes toothpaste less runny is the one that creates a problem for celiacs.
What is Gluten Free Toothpaste?
So now that we’ve identified the gluten-y culprit, what is the fix? New alternatives have been popping up that use a cellulose gum based thickening agent that is just the thing you’re looking for. Cellulose gum is the shorthand version of carboxymethylcellulose or CMC. This thickening agent finds itself (most notably) in the cell walls of woody plants such as trees or cotton. CMC manufacturers use a vinegar based acid to break down the plant cells and form a viscous gum. Not only does CMC works wonderfully well as a thickening agent, but it doubles as an emulsifier and stops sugars from crystallizing. One drawback, however, is that CMC is indigestible to humans. The FDA has a warning out stating “Caution should be exercised when using CMC because larger quantities may cause a laxative effect.” That’s unpleasant, and we’re going to recommend you don’t eat a lot of this toothpaste.
Is it Worth it?
If you have celiac disease then yes. Absolutely. Please make sure to take advantage of the incredible advancements we’ve made in the world of oral care and experience a new lease on life with gluten free toothpastes.
If you don’t have celiac disease then no, you’re paying a premium for something that’s not helping you in any way. It won’t affect your dietary habits and won’t hurt your wallet as much.
Gluten is a hot button topic so don’t go uninformed if you think you might have celiac or a gluten sensitivity. For more gluten-free resources head over to http://www.celiaccentral.org/. If you have any more dental health related questions or are looking for a local dentist, reach out to us at http://www.hospitaldentalgroup.com!