Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that people add to water, foods, and other products. Many toothpastes contain fluoride because it has benefits for protecting the health of the teeth. Too much fluoride can pose health risks, but the amounts in toothpaste are generally safe if a person uses the toothpaste as directed.
Toothpaste is an important part of good oral hygiene. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know which one is the right choice.
Many toothpastes contain fluoride, a mineral found naturally in soil and rocks. This article examines what fluoride is and why manufacturers add it to toothpaste. It also covers the benefits and risks of fluoride and tips for choosing the best toothpaste.
The producers designed the toothpaste to
People use toothpaste with a toothbrush to gently brush plaque and other debris from their teeth. All toothpastes have something in common
- Abrasives such as calcium carbonate or calcium phosphate. These remove anything that sticks to the surface of the teeth without scratching them.
- Binders like sodium alginate or xanthan gum. These give the toothpaste elasticity and shape and help prevent it from drying out by binding water to it.
- Humectants such as glycerol or propylene glycol. These retain water to prevent the toothpaste from hardening.
- Foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulphate or sodium alkyl sulphosuccinate.
- Preservatives, to prevent the growth of microorganisms.
Some toothpastes contain other ingredients, depending on their formulation:
- fluoride, which strengthens enamel and prevents cavities
- flavors like spearmint, peppermint or menthol
- sweeteners, including sorbitol, glycerol, and xylitol
- anti-sensitivity agents, including strontium chloride or potassium nitrate
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that exists in:
It is an important part of dental development in children under the age of 7 because it strengthens developing enamel. In children and adults, it also slows the acid-producing capacity of plaque, which protects teeth from decay.
In many cities and countries, local authorities add fluoride to drinking water, which has been shown to reduce tooth decay by at least 25%. Fluoride toothpaste provides an extra layer of protection against tooth decay and plaque buildup.
Fluoride protects teeth against decay by helping to strengthen the development of enamel and by slowing the acid production of bacteria caused by plaque.
Fluoride protects teeth against a process called demineralization. It happens when bacteria combine with sugars to create acid which erodes the tooth.
In addition, fluoride promotes remineralization. This process brings calcium and phosphate ions to the tooth to create a new acid-resistant surface.
Too much fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis. Fluorosis is a condition that produces a change in the color of tooth enamel. This discoloration is usually manifested by white or sometimes brown spots.
Fluorosis usually occurs when children with forming teeth swallow toothpaste rather than spit it out. According to
Most cases of dental fluorosis are very mild to mild. In moderate to severe cases, more visible and extensive enamel changes occur, including brown spots and pits in the teeth.
The risk of getting too much fluoride from toothpaste is low and primarily affects children, who are more likely to swallow toothpaste.
To reduce the risk of dental fluorosis, parents should:
- monitor children 6 and under to discourage toothpaste ingestion
- only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste between ages 3 and 6
- consult a doctor or dentist about the use of fluoride toothpaste for children under 2 years of age. Typically a the size of rice the amount of toothpaste is acceptable for children under 2 years old.
Chronic exposure to high levels of fluoride can also lead to skeletal fluorosis. It happens when fluoride builds up in the bones, causing stiffness and pain. In the most severe cases, the ligaments can calcify, causing pain and difficulty moving. This is usually a problem in areas
While the fluoride in toothpaste is generally considered safe, there is a larger and ongoing discussion about overall fluoride intake, from water, food, mouthwashes, and other sources.
the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), which advocates against the use of added fluoride in water and products, lists the following health concerns she associates with fluoride consumption:
A 2016 study of children in Mexico found that higher levels of pre-birth fluoride exposure could lead to decreased cognitive abilities in babies when tested between 4 and 6-12 years of age. Researchers tested fluoride levels in 299 pregnant women and their children aged 4 and 6 to 12. The results suggest a link between high fluoride levels in mothers and lower IQ scores in their children.
But other researchers who evaluated this study said the level of fluoride used was double or triple the level found in drinking water in the United States. The researchers also failed to take into account other factors that might have contributed to lower IQ scores in the study.
Researchers evaluating other health issues also found problems with unreliable data and poor study design.
Overall, researchers have determined that studies linking major health issues to fluoride are unreliable.
Fluoride has been used in drinking water for
There are so many toothpaste options to choose from that it can be difficult for people to determine which one is best for them.
The first question to ask yourself is if anyone wants toothpaste that contains fluoride. If so, most major brands offer a variety of fluoridated products. Otherwise, look for a natural toothpaste, which is more likely to be fluoride-free.
If the choice is to buy fluoride toothpaste, children up to 3 years of age should use toothpaste with a fluoride level of 1000 parts per million (ppm). Anyone 3 years of age and older should use toothpaste with a fluoride level of 1350 to 1500 ppm.
With any fluoride toothpaste, look for the American Dental Associationthe seal of approval. This indicates that the toothpaste:
- contain fluoride
- have active ingredients to improve dental health such as decreasing tooth sensitivity, preventing enamel erosion or reducing gingivitis
- not have sugar in the flavoring agents
- provide scientific evidence demonstrating safety and efficacy
Beyond that, choose a toothpaste based on your personal preferences or specific dental needs. Whitening teeth, treating tooth sensitivity, controlling tartar, and choosing different flavors are all options.
A person should look at the ingredient label to make sure that the product does not contain anything that could cause an allergic reaction.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in soil, rocks and water. It is a powerful tool for protecting teeth against decay and helping to remineralize dental surfaces.
Fluoride toothpaste is a popular option for protecting teeth and fighting dental plaque. It’s widely available and generally a safe option, as long as someone spits it out.
Parents should monitor children’s use of toothpaste to make sure they do not swallow it. Ingesting too much fluoride early in tooth development can lead to fluorosis, which causes white or brown spots on the teeth.
When buying fluoride toothpaste, look for the level of fluoride it contains and the ADA seal of approval. For fluoride-free toothpaste, choose a natural toothpaste option.