Should I use fluoride-free toothpaste?
For years, tooth cavities and other bad oral conditions have been largely avoided within your community. This is due to the addition of fluoride in your water and your toothpaste. You may have grown up brushing your teeth and did not even know it was there.
Recently, fluoride has become a popular discussion point within the dental industry and the community at large. The introduction of fluoride-free toothpaste has made patients think twice before purchasing a toothpaste product over the counter.
Is fluoride good for you or should you use fluoride-free toothpaste instead?
To make your decision easier, our team has provided you with everything you need to know about the effects fluoride and fluoride-free toothpaste have on your body.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in rocks, water and plants. It acts as a repair agent and helps protect the surface of your teeth against acid. Fluoride also helps to:
- Rebuild weak tooth enamel
- Prevent tooth decay
- Limit the growth of bacteria
Naturally occurring fluoride is not enough to protect your teeth, therefore, a small amount is added to toothpastes and gels. Your local authorities may also add fluoride to your local water supply to help prevent tooth cavities within your community. This is often required because the amount of natural fluoride in some drinking supplies. However, this is not the optimal concentration to be both safe and provide a health benefit.
Furthermore, it can be also found within your bones and your teeth.
However, fluoride toothpaste can be harmful to children younger than 6 years of age because they have not developed the habit of spitting out excess paste. If your child swallows enough fluoride over time, they may be at risk of developing fluorosis.
Fluorosis will restrict the development of their tooth enamel and may cause spots or pits to appear on their teeth. It is important to note that for this to occur, children would need to be exposed to high concentrations of fluoride for an extended period of time. So as long as they do not ‘eat’ toothpaste, it is generally very safe.
What is in fluoride free toothpaste?
In some brands, fluoride is replaced by ingredients such as:
- Baking soda
Although there is no scientific demonstration that fluoride-free toothpaste prevents cavities or eliminates gum disease. Patients still tend to deter from the traditional brushing method.
Why use fluoride-free toothpaste
Fluoride-free toothpaste has several benefits, our team has outlined the key advantages below.
Safe for young children
When teaching your children how to brush their teeth, it can be difficult to stop them from swallowing the toothpaste. Especially if the toothpaste is flavoured. If your child swallows too much fluoride they could be at risk of fluorosis.
Try to avoid using large blobs of toothpaste. Instead, just dab the bristles of their toothbrush in the tube.
Reduce risk of physical damage
Over time, your bones and ligaments may become weakened if you swallow too much toothpaste or a mouthwash with fluoride in it. Therefore, fluoride-free products can help reduce the risk of structural damage to your body.
This generally only occurs if you are consuming toothpaste. If you just use it topically and don’t swallow large amounts, it is unlikely to get into your systematic system to cause these side effects
Side effects of fluoride-free toothpaste
When you remove a strong, natural protective agent such as fluoride from your toothpaste it can have some repercussions. We have outlined some disadvantages of fluoride-free toothpaste below.
Higher risk of cavities
When you consume food or drinks that contain sugar, bacteria acid from the consumables begin to harm the outer layer of your tooth. As a result, cavities begin to form.
Without fluoride your teeth will be left unprotected. Fluoride acts as a protective agent which helps prevent tooth cavities and shields your tooth enamel. Brushing your teeth is not enough. You need fluoride toothpaste in order to maintain your oral hygiene.
Therefore, if you use fluoride-free toothpaste you may increase the chance of forming oral conditions.
If you use toothpaste without fluoride, your teeth will be left unprotected from bacteria. Fluoride interferes with the bacteria acid left on your teeth and reduces demineralisation. It also acts as an antibacterial.
Should you use fluoride-free toothpaste?
From a dentist’s perspective, toothpaste with fluoride in it does help you maintain your oral health. It has been known to prevent bacteria build-up and reduces the risk of cavities.
However, recommendations indicate that children under the age of 6 should use a lower concentration of fluoride or fluoride-free toothpaste to brush their teeth. This should be done until parents are confident that their children are not swallowing large amounts.
Toothpaste should be stored out of your child’s reach to ensure they do not accidental consume large quantities.
Book an appointment today
If you have any questions about which type of toothpaste you should be using, ask your dentist at your next visit.
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