Slight Bitter Taste From Pronamel Toothpaste

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

All of the pronamel toothpastes are mint flavored but if you pay close attention to the taste while brushing, you may notice a slight bitter taste.

This bitterness is more readily apparent in the less minty tasting pronamels such as in their essential care line of products (Daily protection and Fresh breath).

Pronamel daily protection and fresh breath toothpastes
Daily protection & Fresh breath

Just to let you know, that bitterness actually comes from the surfactant in the formulation, namely cocamidopropyl betaine.

Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is the surfactant of choice for all of the pronamel toothpastes and it does have a bitter taste to it.

Research evidence:

  • Out of the 3 most commonly used toothpaste surfactants (sodium lauryl sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate) CAPB is the most bitter tasting one.
  • Children are more sensitive to the bitterness than adults.
Sensodyne Pronamel Daily Protection Toothpaste - ingredients directions warnings
Ingredients label

Why it’s in toothpaste

The primary reason that pronamel uses CAPB in their toothpastes is as a SLS alternative. Yes, their entire product line does not have sodium lauryl sulfate.

Why surfactants are necessary:

  • Wets the tooth surface to disperse toothpaste ingredients.
  • Helps clean teeth by removing food, plaque, and stains.
  • Foams to reduce the amount of required paste used.
SLS detergent micelle formation
Surfactant cleaning mechanism Credit: Science on the Shelves

The major consequence of having no surfactants would be ineffective and inefficient cleaning of the teeth. Do you know that squeaky clean feeling after using soap? That’s from the surfactant in the ingredients!

Benefits of CAPB over SLS:

  • Safer. Less harsh (doesn’t dry out your skin), less toxic and more biocompatible. It is derived from coconuts which makes it more natural as well.
  • No fluoride inhibition. It does not interfere with fluoride deposition onto the teeth. In fact, studies have shown that there is increased remineralization when compared to SLS dentifrices.

In summary, cocamidopropyl betaine is in toothpaste to be used as a surfactant to aid in the cleaning of teeth. It is used in lieu of SLS because it is safer and does not inhibit fluoride. The only unfortunate downside is the bitter taste.

How to minimize the bitter taste

There is no way for you to minimize the bitter taste from the pronamel toothpastes because the formulation is set in stone. You are unable to change and alter it on your own.

Alternative options for what you can do:

  • Switch to the Active Shield toothpaste.
  • Petition Sensodyne Pronamel to change their formulation.

Active Shield toothpaste isn’t as bitter

The bitter taste is more noticeable in the pronamel essential care toothpastes and is less so in their new Active Shield toothpaste. Yes, this pronamel tastes more minty and less bitter.

Sensodyne Pronamel Active Shield Toothpaste - box side view
The active shield dentifrice

The primary reason why the Active Shield isn’t as bitter is because the CAPB is mixed with sodium methyl cocoyl taurate. Essentially there are two surfactants in there and the latter is known to be less bitter according to studies.

The recommendation from that research study was to combine CAPB with other surfactants so that the adverse taste can be minimized. That is essentially what pronamel did with this new toothpaste.

Petition Sensodyne Pronamel

While you may not be able to alter the formulation, you can always send a suggestion to pronamel. You can try asking them to add in a larger amount of artificial sweeteners to mask the taste.

Common non-nutritive sweeteners in toothpaste:

  • Sorbitol
  • Sodium Saccharin
  • Xylitol

The pronamels already have sorbitol and sodium saccharin in them but the concentration is probably not very high. Perhaps adding more of it will help cover up the taste.

Alternatively you could also ask them to make the formulation more similar to their Active Shield toothpaste which tastes less bitter. You never know they might just do it.

Historical reference: As a matter of fact, the active shield toothpaste was created to be more foamy because a lot of customers wanted a more foamy product. Sensodyne pronamel heard and made a toothpaste exactly how their customers wanted it.


Unfortunately the bitter taste from pronamel toothpastes are due to the surfactant in the formulation, cocamidopropyl betaine.

Pronamel made the decision to use it instead of SLS, which is not bitter tasting at all. The reason is because CAPB is safer, less harsh, and less toxic. The only downside would be the poor taste.

With that being said, some of the pronamel toothpastes such as the Active Shield do not taste bitter at all. Perhaps you should give that one a try instead if the taste bothers you.

Last but not least, I do want to leave you with some alternatives for better tasting toothpaste if you were interested. By far the best tasting toothpaste that I’ve ever tasted would have to be the Hismile toothpastes (PAP+ whitening and v34 color corrector serum). Those literally taste like candy to me.


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