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Why does toothpaste contain sweeteners? © Getty Images

Why does toothpaste contain sweeteners?

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Wash your mouth out with soap…you already do, with soapy toothpastes sweetened to cover the taste of detergent.

Asked by: Joyce Burley, Hull


Toothpaste needs something to mask the soapy taste of the detergents that create the foam when you brush. Sugar is out, for obvious reasons, but sweeteners such as xylitol or sorbitol do a pretty good job.

These chemicals attract water molecules, so they have the added benefit of keeping water locked in the toothpaste, preventing it from drying out. Research also suggests that xylitol can help to kill off plaque bacteria in  the mouth by starving them of sugar.

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Dr Emma Davies is a science writer and editor with a PhD in food chemistry from the University of Leeds. She writes about all aspects of chemistry, from food and the environment to toxicology and regulatory science.


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