Should you use fluoride toothpaste? Yes or no?

At Harmony Dental, we know that caring for your teeth is a team effort between regular cleanings and checkups, and how you care for your teeth at home.

How is your oral hygiene routine at home?

  • Do you floss daily?
  • Do you brush your teeth twice a day?
  • And last but not least: Do you use fluoride toothpaste

As your dentist in Beaverton, OR, we get asked a lot about the benefits of using fluoride toothpaste vs. fluoride-free toothpaste. We want to clarify any misconceptions and break down the pros and cons.

What is fluoride? And is it safe to use?

First, we must understand that fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical found in the earth. It is located in small amounts in air, water, and even some plants.

But be careful:

Just because it is a naturally occurring component of the environment does not mean it is good for us to ingest. If ingested, fluoride can be poisonous, especially in large quantities. This is why fluoride toothpaste containers have a warning to contact poison control if ingested.


Fluoride toothpaste is typically not recommended for children younger than six years old. If a child swallows fluoride toothpaste, they may develop fluorosis, which interferes with the development of tooth enamel and can cause white spots or streaks on the teeth.

Although, you should note: No type of toothpaste, fluoride or not, is meant to be swallowed. And you should always spit out fluoride toothpaste after brushing your teeth – no matter how good it tastes.

Now, the good news:

As a topical treatment, fluoride can provide great benefits to your teeth, like preventing tooth decay.

What are the benefits of fluoride?

Studies have shown that the benefits of fluoride are achieved only with topical application — not from ingestion. 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 fluoride can reduce plaque, remove tartar, and clean and protect teeth.

The presence of fluoride in your 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, healthy structure.

Fluoride helps keep your teeth strong

Is non-fluoride toothpaste effective?

Non-fluorinated kinds of toothpaste use natural ingredients such as hydrated silica, cranberry extract, and xylitol to prevent the adhesion of bacteria to teeth and to 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.

Fluoride-free toothpaste is very effective at cleaning your teeth but cannot strengthen your teeth like fluoride toothpaste.

How do I know if I need fluoride toothpaste?

As you read, each toothpaste, fluoride vs. fluoride-free, has its pros and cons. The single best way to find out if you need fluoride toothpaste is to ask your dental provider.

If you are looking for a dentist in the Beaverton, OR area, then contact us today! We can schedule you a free consultation with Dr. Bruno da Costa and determine if you would benefit from fluoride toothpaste.


Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2012 and has been completely revamped for comprehensiveness and timeliness.