Many patients have heard of fluoride, but are unsure exactly what it is and whether they should use toothpaste containing fluoride. In this post, our BC orthodontists share some information about fluoride and the difference between using fluoridated and non-fluoridated toothpaste.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, food, plants, soil, and the air. Since this mineral can also be found in our teeth and bones, an increased level of fluoride intake can provide a number of health benefits, especially for your teeth and oral health.
Fluoride is commonly used in the field of dentistry to strengthen enamel (the outer layer of the teeth). Fluoride has also been proven to help prevent cavities. In many places, fluoride is added in small amounts to water supplies, and can also be added to toothpaste to benefit your teeth. This process of adding this mineral to water or toothpaste is called fluoridation.
Fluoride vs Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
Since fluoride is already added to most drinking water, patients often wonder if it is necessary to also use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Below, our team at My ORTHODONTIST breaks down the benefits of fluoridated toothpaste and when non-fluoridated toothpaste may be a better choice.
Is fluoride toothpaste good for your oral health?
Fluoridated toothpaste helps harden tooth enamel, allowing it to better resist acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. When babies and children begin to form their teeth, fluoride can become incorporated in the enamel as the teeth form. Once the teeth erupt, the fluoride helps them become more resistant to cavities. Fluoride also attracts other minerals such as calcium to help build strong teeth and bones.
Fluoridated toothpaste can also help slow down the demineralization process and can re-mineralize the enamel, reducing small amounts of early-stage decay. Additionally, fluoride can decrease the amount of plaque present on your teeth – a clear precursor to tooth decay and gum disease.
When is fluoride-free toothpaste a good choice?
Too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis, which is the discolouration of the teeth. This is caused by ingesting an increased amount of fluoride (you don't have to worry about the fluoride added to water as it is in very small amounts).
Because of this, children under the age of three are recommended to use a non-fluoridated toothpaste as they have yet to master the art of not swallowing their toothpaste. After the age of three, adult supervision is still recommended to ensure they don’t swallow too much toothpaste while beginning to brush on their own.
You may also prefer a non-fluoridated toothpaste if you:
- Have a fluoride allergy or have experienced dental fluorosis.
- Believe the amount of fluoride released into the water through toothpaste is harmful to the environment.
- Think that the amount of the mineral already in the water supply, fluoride toothpaste is overkill.
Types of Non-Fluoridated Toothpaste
If you aren't too inclined to use fluoridated toothpaste, or if your dentist has advised against it, there are a few options for toothpaste that do not contain fluoride.
Depending on your oral health needs and personal preferences, your dentist may recommend charcoal, xylitol, baking soda, or arginine-based toothpaste. All of these options can still effectively remove plaque and tartar buildup, and can still help whiten your teeth.
The Conclusion of Fluoride vs Non-Fluoride Toothpaste
At the end of the day, there is no doubt that fluoridated toothpaste is beneficial to your teeth and oral health. that being said, there are instances in which a non-fluoridated toothpaste would be recommended and may even be the only option.
The best way to decide on toothpaste is to speak with your dentist and inform them of all of your needs and concerns. Your dentist will be able to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision and recommend the best choice for your oral health needs.