Ever wondered whether the toothpaste you’re using is the best choice for your teeth and general health?
Like most of us, you’ve probably grown up using the stock-standard Colgate or Oral-B fluoride toothpaste. It may have been bubblegum flavoured when you were a kid, it may even have advanced whitening features when you feel like spoiling yourself as an adult.
Despite many people sticking to what they know, others are now choosing fluoride-free toothpaste for a number of reasons, whether it be a desire to use more “natural” products, or a concern over the health effects of excessive fluoride consumption.
Is fluoride in your toothpaste safe? Or should you be using a fluoride-free toothpaste?
In this blog we’ll be outlining the difference between using fluoride toothpaste VS. fluoride-free toothpaste, so you’ll have all the info you need the next time you’re due to top up your dental products.
- What is fluoride?
- What does fluoride do to my teeth?
- Fluoride toothpaste VS. fluoride-free toothpaste
- Which is the best toothpaste?
1. What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral that can be found in the air, rocks, soil, saltwater and freshwater. Its mineral properties make your teeth stronger and prevent cavities from forming. The amount of fluoride in the environment is not enough on its own to protect your teeth though, which is why it is often added to the community water supply, plus dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwash.
Fluoride has been included in Australia water supplies since the 1960s and has continued due to its effectiveness at minimising tooth decay, supported by many health organisations including the Australian Medical Association.
2. What does fluoride do to my teeth?
Fluoride strengthens the enamel on your teeth, which is the protective surface that helps resist the acids that lead to tooth decay. These acids are formed from the bacteria and sugars that you consume every day, which is why it’s important to maintain your oral health routine by brushing and flossing daily, as well as visiting your dentist for your 6-monthly check-up and clean. It’s also helpful to reduce your sugar intake with these helpful tips for overcoming your sugar cravings if you have a sweet tooth!
This strengthening process works by reducing the effects of demineralisation, which is the first stage of tooth decay. If an actual cavity has not yet formed, the fluoride can enter the demineralised area of the tooth to assist it in remineralising (getting stronger). The fluoride also assists in disrupting dental plaque present on the teeth, which can cause tooth decay as well as gum disease.
The fluoride which is added to toothpaste and mouthwash is known as topical fluoride, and is beneficial for both adults and children. For babies, before their teeth emerge and they have the ability for them to be brushed, their enamel is protected by the fluoride they consume in food and water. Then, when the teeth erupt through the gums, these naturally occurring sources of fluoride assist in strengthening their enamel as their teeth grow into place.
3. Fluoride toothpaste VS. fluoride-free toothpaste
As you can see, fluoride is included in your toothpaste for several convincing reasons. Even so, some people still choose fluoride toothpaste due to a fluoride allergy or concerns about the effects of fluoride on the body. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of both fluoride toothpaste and fluoride-free toothpaste to keep in mind.
Not only does fluoride toothpaste keep the dental decay at bay, but it also keeps your breath fresh and has additional benefits such as whitening or sensitivity care if you choose these more specialised options.
Fluoride is only a concern when consumed in excess, which can cause a condition called “Dental Fluorosis”. We know what you’re thinking… this sounds scary! Don’t worry though – fluorosis just refers to changes in the appearance of the tooth enamel, in the form of white spots on the surface, which don’t affect dental function and are usually not noticeable. In its most severe form, which is also very rare, it may cause pits to form in the teeth.
This only occurs during childhood, usually as a result of young children consuming large amounts of adult-strength fluoride toothpaste over a long period of time while the teeth are developing.
How to prevent Dental Fluorosis
To prevent your child from developing dental fluorosis, we recommend:
- Making sure children under 3 years old only use a rice-grain amount of kids’ toothpaste and children over 3 use a pea size amount of toothpaste
- Teaching children how to spit the toothpaste out properly, ensuring they don’t swallow it
Some people are concerned over consuming excess levels of fluoride in their water supply and toothpaste, due to the fear that it can lead to health conditions such as thyroid dysfunction or cancer. This is one of the reasons they may buy products without fluoride, and other similar natural oral health products such as activated charcoal teeth whitening. The NHRMC has confirmed that “there is no reliable evidence that water fluoridation at current Australian levels causes health problems”, as well as fluoride toothpaste being completely safe when used correctly.
Fluoride-free toothpaste will still freshen your breath as a regular toothpaste would, and the motion of the bristles of your toothbrush also helps displace plaque no matter which toothpaste you choose. Unfortunately though, without fluoride, your toothpaste won’t be effective in reducing the effects of demineralisation and reducing tooth decay.
4. Which is the best toothpaste?
We recommend choosing a toothpaste that features the Australian Dental Association Seal of Approval. These products only receive all the ticks of approval if they meet all of the quality and safety criteria set by the government.
Check-up with our Gold Coast dentists
For personalised advice regarding which oral health products will be most suitable for you, or to book a check-up and clean at our Gold Coast dental clinics, please feel free to schedule an appointment online or give our friendly team a call: