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Can Toothpaste Make You Fail a Breathalyzer Test?

Here’s an interesting news story from CosmeticsDesign.com about Massachusetts Senator Anthony Galluccio’s drunk driving arrest. The reason this caught the attention of my “beauty brain” is that the Senator claimed his that his toothpaste made him fail a breathalyzer test. Could this be true?

Tipsy toothpaste

The controversy centers around the ingredient sorbitol, a sugar alcohol which is used in toothpaste to provide sweetness and help maintain the water content of the paste. Galluccio regularly uses either Sensodyne Toothpaste and Colgate Total Whitening and reportedly a physician told him that these products could cause a positive breathalyzer result. However, James Herms, a formulator who helped develop Sensodyne formulas says that sorbitol ‘is not going to show up’ on a DOT-approved alcohol testing device. The only oral care ingredient likely to cause such an effect is ethyl alcohol, which is used in larger amounts in mouth washes.

Joe Dwinell from the Boston Herald, the paper that broke this story, tested this theory by brushing his teeth with the same Sensodyne product and then taking a breathalyzer test. After only two minutes, the results showed no trace of alcohol. While this certainly isn’t a scientifically rigorous test, the “sorbitol defense” certainly sounds like BS to me.

What do YOU think? Does this sound like beauty science or BS to you? Leave a comment for the rest of the Beauty Brains community.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • rick July 19, 2014, 1:52 pm

    i know from being on home detention and having to take 5 breatilizers a day they told us certain toothpastes, mouth wash, certain spagetti sauces menthol tobacco, some candies even can show up on the breathalizer they told me to brush my teeth with baking soda only while i was on home detention

  • Denise Halliday November 18, 2014, 11:12 pm

    My son came out of the dentist with a tube of Sensodyne the dentist had given him for bad toothache caused by sensitive teeth.He put a dab on his tooth and drove away only to be pulled up by a cop and given a breath test which he failed.He tried to tell cop and even took him back to the dentist only for him to tell the cop there was no alcohol in the Sensodyne. the cop took him back to the station for more tests where he had 4 zero zero alcohol tests.

  • Chris Harris November 19, 2014, 1:31 am

    No this happened to me yesterday one minute after I left the dentist and he pit sensory me on my tooth two minutes before being pulled over , I failed two times roadside then arrested and finally cleared breathalyser at cop shop an hour later after talking to lawyer , so stressfull i would have been locked up

  • Jaspreet January 25, 2015, 10:52 am

    I haven’t drank in over 3 weeks and just blew a fail from brushing my teeth. Nothing else but brushing my teeth, didn’t even have breakfast.

    I have it installed in my car so I know how it works.

  • jkellz35 April 13, 2015, 10:45 pm

    Absolute b.s. With a capital B and I will call anyone a BOLD face liar who says otherwise. I got pulled over twice after brushing my teeth with sensodyne toothpaste. Once-within minutes of brushing-for failing to stop at a stop sign. Another time It was like 15 minutes later after brushing when I had to go through a dui checkpoint. Both time I blew a 0.0 without even the tiniest trace of alcohol in my system. I am 5’8 and weigh 135lbs. Might have nothing to do with tolerance-because I can handle more booze than my 200lb friend; However, it does have to do with the amount of alcohol the liver metabolizes.

    Another point, the average person metabolizes the equivalent of one 12oz beer per hour. Now do the math or take an educated guess how much toothpaste is needed to equal an entire can/bottle of beer or a shot of hard liquor. And even if it did have an effect. You would have to swallow about 2 tubes and get pulled over immediately and get stopped driving. Also, if you have one of the interlock devices, the people who said they were pulled over are FoS, because the car ain’t starting to begin with to even have a chance to get pulled over. For the other people, you would have to have the sensodyne for dinner and have one tube for dessert and you still wouldn’t come close to a .08bac

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