Recently we came across a really good tasting toothpaste from Australia that didn’t have fluoride in it. There are many American brands that use all natural ingredients and are fluoride free, but most of the mainstream brands have fluoride in them. We have a lot of patients ask us about the benefits of using fluoride over non-fluoride toothpaste. We want to clarify any misconceptions and break down the pros and cons of each.
What is Fluoride and is it Safe?
First, we must understand that fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical found in the earth. It is found in small amounts in the air, water and in even in some plants. But be careful, just because it is a naturally occurring component of the environment does not mean it is good for humans to ingest. In fact, fluoride can be poisonous if ingested, especially in large quantities, that is why toothpaste containers with fluoride in them have a warning to contact the poison control if ingested. But as a topical treatment fluoride can provide great benefits to teeth.
The presence of fluoride in the mouth can attract other minerals (such as calcium) to the area. Calcium is good for our bones and helps maintain our teeth with a strong and healthy structure.
What role does fluoride play in preventing tooth decay?
Studies have shown that the benefits of fluoride are achieved only with topical application — not from ingestion. An exposure to fluoride (like that contained in toothpaste and city tap water) is the most effective cavity prevention treatment available today. Toothpaste with fluoride is used to assist in good dental hygiene and overall oral wellness. Research has shown that it can reduce plaque, remove tarter, and clean and protect the teeth. Most of the cleaning action from brushing the teeth actually occurs from the abrasive back and forth action of the toothbrush.
Are non-fluoride toothpastes effective?
Non-fluorinated toothpastes use natural ingredients such as hydrated silica, cranberry extract and xylitol to prevent the adhesion of bacteria to teeth and remove plaque. A derivative of silicon dioxide, hydrated silica is a mild abrasive that works synergistically with calcium carbonate to remove plaque. Hydrated silica also gives a gel-like texture to the toothpaste and helps remove stains.