Are you one of those people that quiver at the thought of being at a dentist’s office? You might want to hear about fluoride toothpaste and how it can save you a few visits to your dentist.
While it might not be the end-all-be-all cure to all your dental headaches, you’ll be surprised to see how much of an impact this key component can have on your smile.
RELATED: HOW TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH PROPERLY
What Does Fluoride Do?
But what does fluoride toothpaste do, and why do dentists like it so much?
We can list a few fluoride toothpaste benefits, but the main one is that it prevents tooth decay, or in layman’s terms, it prevents cavities. In fact, according to the American Dental Association, it might even help “reverse early damage.”
Adults and children can safely use toothpaste with fluoride, but children under six should use a pea-sized amount.
Fluoride also speeds up the rate of remineralization. If you’re unsure what this means, it’s simply the process of your teeth generating minerals like calcium and phosphate, which make up your tooth enamel. Even though losing these minerals is a part of aging and time, keeping your enamel strong is crucial for avoiding cavities.
Pros and Cons of Using Fluoride Toothpaste
While fluoride provides many benefits for your teeth, it is not for everyone.
Even though adults can safely use it, it is not recommended for children under 2 years old. Children ages 3-6 can use it as long as they have parental supervision, and they can only use a pea-sized amount on their toothbrushes.
If any child under this age were to accidentally ingest too much fluoride, it could lead to a condition called fluorosis. It might sound scary, but it simply refers to a yellow or brown discoloration in teeth that shows up as spots.
If you have any additional concerns about children and fluoride, you can always ask your dentist.
Is Fluoride Toothpaste Bad For You?
So, fluoride can discolor teeth in younger children, but what about adults?
You’re probably wondering if fluoride toothpaste is safe. If used correctly, that is, in appropriate amounts, you have nothing to worry about!
The most significant risk from fluoride toothpaste, even in adults, is still dental fluorosis. Keep in mind that you’d have to consume large amounts of fluoride for this to happen.
In really rare instances, it might cause gastrointestinal problems. Again, for these problems to occur, you’d have to take in substantial amounts of fluoride.
Other than these rare circumstances, fluoride toothpaste isn’t bad for you. If anything, it’ll bring more benefits than you’d think.
If you’re still wondering if fluoride toothpaste is terrible for you, be assured that it can’t be farther from the truth. In fact, the pros outweigh the cons!
Some of the benefits of fluoride toothpaste include: strengthening your enamel and any exposed roots, increasing the resistance to decay, and in some cases, it might reverse some of the damage in your teeth.
But there isn’t just one kind of fluoride toothpaste. In fact, the FDA recognizes three types of fluoride that can safely and effectively be used in dental products:
- Stannous fluoride
- Sodium fluoride, and
- Sodium monofluorophosphate.
They’re a bit of a mouthful (no pun intended), but their functions and benefits are really simple!
If your goal is to prevent cavities, toothpaste with sodium fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate will be the best solution, as this is their sole function.
However, if you want a more comprehensive range of dental care and protection from your toothpaste, you might want to try a formula that includes stannous fluoride. This variation will help prevent plaque, gingivitis, and gum sensitivity. Stannous fluoride also acts as an antibacterial compound, which the other two don’t do.
If you decide to use this, though, it could stain your teeth. Consult with your dentist before trying this stronger variety.
Best Fluoride Toothpaste According to the ADA
Before you decide to give fluoride toothpaste a try, you might wonder if there are any specific indications for this kind of product.
While there are, the indications aren’t anything you haven’t already heard.
According to the National Health Service in the UK, adults should brush their teeth at least twice a day with “1,350-1,500ppm fluoride”.
This distinction is a big deal among dental professionals, and the ADA does not take it lightly. The ADA evaluates every single over-the-counter dental product, and they give their rating on the product’s effectiveness and safety. They also review the manufacturing process and conduct multiple clinical trials.
If you see this label on any product, you can feel assured you’re in good hands. Even though the ADA’s list is rather long, below you’ll find some of their best products:
- Burt’s Bees Whitening Toothpaste
- Colgate Cavity Protection Gel & Toothpaste
- Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste (This one is vegan and gluten-free)
- Hello Unicorn Sparkle Fluoride Toothpaste (Just in case you want to try a different flavor!)