Sorbitol in Toothpaste: What to Know about This Natural Ingredient

By Liz Thompson in Natural Products

Maybe you've seen sorbitol in toothpaste ingredient lists or in other personal care products and questioned what it was. The unfamiliar name may perplex people, but the truth is, it's actually a naturally derived ingredient!

Rather than shy away from using products with ingredients that you don't recognize, why not take a little time to learn more about them? This will not only help you broaden your knowledge base, but it can also open up your options in choosing personal care products that you feel comfortable with.

Let's start the lessons right now with a crash course in sorbitol.

What Is Sorbitol and How Is It Made?

Sorbitol was first discovered in the fresh juice of mountain ash berries back in 1872, but according to the International Food Information Council Foundation, it can be found in several other fruits and vegetables, such as apples and blackberries.

To get sorbitol, a fruit or vegetable containing it (like corn) must be put through a soaking process, known as wet-milling, that releases starch, gluten, fiber, and oil from the plant. Once the starch component is exposed to enzymes, it breaks down into simple sugars, producing glucose. Hydrogen is then added to the glucose over a metal catalyst. This process turns the glucose into a white crystalline powder, which is the natural state of sorbitol.

While this naturally occurring sugar alcohol may be best known as a natural sweetener for foods, it also has many uses in cosmetics. You might see sorbitol listed in ingredient labels on personal care products, such as soaps, lotions, and hair-care products.

    sorbitol in toothpaste

    Uses for Sorbitol in Toothpaste

    You may know sorbitol as a sweetening agent, but there are many other uses for this ingredient. It's often used in personal care products as a moistening agent because of its ability to retain liquids. This keeps the product from drying out.

    Sorbitol may be added to your toothpaste to keep it soft, smooth, and moist, but it has another potential benefit. A study published in the Journal of Dental Education shows that sorbitol is non-cariogenic. This means that it's not metabolized by the oral bacteria in your mouth that turn sugars and starches into acids that can cause cavities and erode tooth enamel.

    What is Sorbitol

    Is Sorbitol Safe?

    With the ever-growing concern over artificial sweeteners and synthetic cosmetic ingredients, you'll appreciate knowing that sorbitol in toothpaste carries no known risks, and it's also been used safely in skin care and oral care products for almost one hundred years. The Food and Drug Administration also lists sorbitol as an ingredient that is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), which means that it's considered safe by qualified experts.

    Trying a Natural Toothpaste for the First Time

    One of the many benefits of using a natural toothpaste is knowing where your ingredients come from and how the product was made. When it comes to sorbitol, you can feel good about this naturally derived ingredient and all the properties it adds to your favorite toothpaste formula.

    You can find natural toothpastes formulated for both adults and children, meaning that your entire family can participate in your journey to switch to natural. Many drugstores and grocery stores today carry both conventional and natural products, so it's not difficult to find a product that aligns with your goals of living more naturally. If you try one product and find it doesn't work for you, there are plenty of other options to try until you find the perfect fit!

    Are you ready to tackle and translate your personal care ingredient lists? To learn even more about naturally derived ingredients, check out the Ingredients from Nature board from @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

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    The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

    Why It's Good

    Sorbitol is a naturally derived ingredient that helps retain moisture and texture in toothpaste. Choosing a natural toothpaste formula made with ingredients you can feel comfortable with is a positive decision for yourself and your family.