Sorbitol is a common ingredient that can be found in various toothpaste brands. Â It is a type of sugar alcohol that may be derived from various fruits like apples, peaches, and pears. Â Depending on the toothpaste formulation, sorbitol may be added as one of the ingredients because of its sweetening effect. Â Beyond the generic menthol or minty tastes, many types of toothpaste also taste sweet, and using sorbitol is a great way to give this type of taste.
Sorbitol is also used in toothpaste as a humectant and thickener. Â Humectants like sorbitol function to prevent the toothpaste from hardening when the tube is opened or when the paste is exposed to air. Â Toothpastes that are made without sorbitol may easily dry and become hard and flaky. Â Sorbitol is also a thickening agent which makes the paste more stable and compact but still soft and moist. Â Without sorbitol, toothpastes may either become too thick and hard or even have a more watery consistency.
Some brands of toothpaste are also manufactured to become gel-like and have a more transparent color. To achieve this effect, toothpastes take advantage of sorbitol’s high refractive index. Â With sorbitol, toothpastes can be formed into gels that are transparent. Â Adding color to the transparent gel is also sometimes a cause for concern yet sorbitol has a reflective index that is high enough and good enough for this particular purpose.
Since sorbitol is naturally derived from fruits, health experts usually consider it as a healthy ingredient for products such as mouthwashes and toothpastes. Â The only significant concern with sorbitol is that it can promote Irritable Bowel Syndrome or lead to problems in the gastrointestinal system if consumed in large amounts. Â This is mainly because sorbitol also functions as a laxative. Â This concern, though, only applies to cases wherein sorbitol is added to food items as a sweetener.