Mr. Bella has been all up in my business lately. "You have to write about the toothpaste!" he keeps saying. "The toothpaste!" Lest you think he has a weird dental hygiene fetish, let me explain. He has fairly sensitive skin, and for the longest time, he used to get recurring acne right around his lips. So he did a little research and found out that sodium lauryl sulfate, a common ingredient in body-care products, is often irritating to skin. And after switching out his regular toothpaste for a SLS-free one, guess what? No more pimples.
If you have had similar problems with acne or irritation, you might want to try switching toothpastes. It may take a while to get used to them, simply because they aren't quite as fast to foam up. The flavors also might be less bold than what you're used to, but I find that after about a minute of brushing, they become more intense. Here are a few that might work for you.
Jason Sea Fresh Toothpaste ($5.49) is a vegan gel that's made with algae. I know it sounds gross at first, but its minty flavor is surprisingly enjoyable, and it gets teeth nice and clean. It doesn't have fluoride, though, so be sure to use a fluoride rinse to keep cavities at bay.
For two other options,
I haven't tried Tom's of Maine Clean & Gentle Care ($5.29), but I love the fact that it comes in a fennel flavor. So hippie-chic, you know? Unlike the Jason toothpaste, this SLS-free formula does contain fluoride, so that saves you one extra step. Truth be told, it's been years since I've used Tom's of Maine—the gels always felt unpleasantly gummy—but I'm willing to give ol' Tom another whirl.
Finally, there's Denblan ($20), the whitening toothpaste from Darphin. Unlike the other two mentioned here, this is a paste rather than a gel, and I prefer it. The flavor is a mild minty-herbal blend, and every time I use it, my teeth feel like clean glass. Twenty dollars is a lot for a toothpaste, but if you're dealing with mouth acne, it's $20 well spent.