The effect of sodium lauryl sulphate, triclosan and zinc on the permeability of normal oral mucosa

Oral Dis. 2000 Mar;6(2):118-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2000.tb00112.x.


Objective: Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), an important component in many oral health products, is well established as a contact irritant in skin. Recent studies have suggested that it may also affect the structural integrity of oral mucosa. SLS is rarely used alone in dentifrices or mouthwashes and the aim of this study was to establish the effect of SLS both alone and in combination with Triclosan (TCN) and zinc (Zn) on the permeability barrier properties of normal human oral mucosa.

Method: Ventral tongue mucosa was obtained from nine males and seven females within 60 h of death and stored frozen at -70 degrees C until use. The permeability of the tissue to tritiated water was measured after pretreatment for 15 min with SLS alone, SLS/TCN, SLS/Zn and a SLS/TCN/Zn mixture. Treatment with distilled water (DW) served as control. The histological appearance of the tissue before and after treatment was also examined by light microscopy.

Results: SLS treatment caused a significant increase in water permeability compared to control tissue (Kp = 11.7 +/- 1.00; 4.96 +/- 0.50 respectively; P < 0.005). Treatment with a SLS/TCN/Zn mixture, however, had no effect on the permeability to water (Kp = 5.5 +/- 0.56). Histological examination revealed that tissue exposed to SLS had a marked disruption of the epithelial surface whilst tissue treated with a SLS/TCN/Zn mixture was indistinguishable from controls.

Conclusion: Although mucosa exposed to SLS alone showed an increase in permeability to water, the addition of TCN and Zn to SLS appeared to prevent this effect. As SLS is included in some dental products to solubilise compounds such as TCN, its presence may have no effect on the permeability barrier property of oral mucosa.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / pharmacology*
  • Cadaver
  • Drug Combinations
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Permeability / drug effects
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / administration & dosage
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / pharmacology*
  • Surface-Active Agents / administration & dosage
  • Surface-Active Agents / pharmacology*
  • Tongue / drug effects
  • Tongue / pathology
  • Triclosan / administration & dosage
  • Triclosan / pharmacology*
  • Tritium
  • Water
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Drug Combinations
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Water
  • Tritium
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate
  • Triclosan
  • Zinc