Cambridge —

A Cambridge man who holds patents on agents used in Sensodyne toothpaste said state Sen. Anthony Galluccio can brush his teeth all he wants -- it shouldn’t set off any court-issued breathalyzer tests he is required to take.

That’s why James Herms, an MIT alum who heads up the school's Crime Club, was confused when the embattled politician from Cambridge said in a statement that Colgate Total Whitening and Sensodyne toothpastes were the reason why his blood alcohol tests taken last month issued positive reads.

Galluccio, who pleaded guilty to an Oct. 4, 2009 hit-and-run, was ordered under 24-hour house arrest for violating his probation by failing breathalyzer tests.

In a letter sent to the Chronicle, Herms - who has five patents on Sensodyne compositions dating back to 2001 - said the toothpastes Galluccio mentions should not cause positive readings on any DOT-approved alcohol testing device. Galluccio will be before a judge Monday morning after allegedly violating his probation last month. He faces up to a year in jail.

“If the senator or anyone has sensitive teeth, what’s more important than the toothpaste is the toothbrush,” Herms said. “You cannot get buzzed off of toothpaste.”

But Galluccio said it was the sorbitol found in his toothpastes that triggered the breath tests.

“After discussing it with a physician, we have determined that it is the result of my using two toothpastes… both which contain sorbitol," Galluccio said in a press release after failing several breathalyzer tests. “While I knew mouthwash or cold medicine would set the machine off, it did not occur to me that toothpaste would.”

Herms said sorbitol is described in the dictionary as a “faintly sweet alcohol,” but only refers to a class of compounds that are similar to ethanol which is found in mouthwash and can alter breathalyzer results.

“Sorbitol is not going to show up,” he said. “The only one that will register is ethyl alcohol. Some physicians or medical doctors don’t know the chemistry.”