Fluoride is a natural mineral that is valued for the way that it strengthens your bones and teeth. One of the greatest and most recognized contributions to your health is that it helps to prevent cavities and is good for your teeth. Because of this, the mineral is used as a supplement for drinking water and toothpaste. Many of the myths about using the mineral stem from people's concerns about it being added to the water supply.
What is Fluoride toothpaste?
The mineral is a compound of fluorine and other minerals that naturally occur in the Earth's crust and is found throughout nature. Fluorine is a substance that your body needs, and it is found in cucumbers, avocados, sunflower seeds, and many of the other foods that you eat.
Benefits of Fluoride
- Extensively research and based on sound science
- Contributes to strong bones
- Reduces the chances of tooth decay
- Is cost effective
Common Myths and Facts About Fluoride
Using fluoridated water and dental products contributes to the health of your bones and teeth. Many myths have brought the use of fluoridated products to the spotlight, but the benefits are proven, safe and effective for children, adults and the elderly.
Myth #1: The benefits of fluoridated water are not well documented in the scientific community.
Fact: More than 70 years of research has shown that fluoridated water is linked to decreased risk of tooth decay. The Center for Disease Control recognizes the value of fluoridation and has cited the addition of the mineral to water as one of the greatest public health improvements of the 20th century.
Myth #2: Water fluoridation is expensive.
Fact: Fluoridating water and toothpaste is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve oral health across a large population.
Myth #3: Water is already fluoridated naturally, so we do not need to add more of the mineral.
Fact: It is true that drinking water is naturally fluoridated, but the levels of the mineral are not high enough to protect your teeth from decay.
Myth #4: The mineral that is used to fluoridate water is unsafe for consumption.
Fact: Fluoridated water is made with the mineral that is extracted from phosphate rocks. The rock is made into phosphoric acid that is added to drinking water and toothpaste, as well as many carbonated beverages, such as soda pops.
Myth #5: Fluoridated water is dangerous for children and the elderly.
Fact: Babies and young children are still developing their teeth, and this is one of the most important times to ensure that the bones and teeth grow strong. Drinking fluoridated water sets a child up for having a beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.
Myth #6: Swallowing fluoridated oral hygiene products is dangerous.
Fact: When children use the proper amount of fluoridated oral health products to clean their teeth and gums, swallowing a small amount will not threaten their health.
Myth #7: The use of fluoridated products has been linked to higher levels of cancer.
Fact: The occurrence of cancer amongst those who use fluoridated oral health products and drinking water has been studied extensively. Research has shown that there is not a significant link between cancer and using the mineral in drinking water and oral hygiene products.
Why Fluoride Toothpaste is Good for Teeth
Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen your tooth enamel. Several factors cause enamel erosion, and once enamel is lost, it is not regenerated by your body. The only way to protect your teeth from damage after losing enamel is to add minerals, such as fluoride. This helps to balance the number of minerals that is lost and the amount that is replaced.
The Differences Between Fluoride vs. Non-Fluoride
Most modern toothpastes contain fluoride, and direct application of fluoride has been shown to be the most effective way to replace the lost minerals in the tooth enamel. Fluoride toothpaste is considered more effective than drinking fluoridated water. Some studies have shown that fluoride toothpaste may also minimize the development of bacteria on the teeth that cause enamel erosion.
Non-fluoride toothpaste may be recommended in some cases, such as:
- Young children who are at risk for swallowing fluoride toothpaste
- Those who are allergic to fluoride
- Adults with certain medical conditions
Your dentist and primary physician can help you decide if you should use non-fluoride toothpaste, as well as reduce other sources of fluoride intake.
Fluoride Toothpaste Benefits
The primary benefit of using fluoride toothpaste is to reduce the risk of developing cavities and other types of tooth decay. Tooth decay is the result of damage that is caused by bacteria and enamel erosion. Other ways to protect your teeth from tooth decay are:
- Routine dental checkups and professional cleanings
- Dental sealants
Fluoride Toothpaste Dangers
There are strict guidelines for this: The fluoride content of toothpaste must not exceed 1450 ppm. With toothpaste for children it is even less; only 500 ppm. This means that it does not contain more than 0.05 - 0.15 %. But is that already too much?
Clear answer: Not in these small quantities! Only 32 to 64 mg per kilogram of body weight can be harmful to health. A person weighing 60kg would have to eat up to 20 tubes of toothpaste a day! Since toothpaste is normally not swallowed anyway, but rather rinsed out again, there is not even a rudimentary danger.
What About Prescription Fluoride Toothpaste?
Your dentist may recommend a prescription toothpaste. Some of the reasons that oral health providers recommend these products are:
- High risk of cavities
- Tooth sensitivity due to exposed roots
- Chronic dry mouth
- Risk or history of periodontal disease
Prescription toothpaste not only contains higher levels of fluoride but also other ingredients that are beneficial to your teeth.
Don't panic! Fluorides are by no means harmful in the quantities in which they are normally taken. Rather, they are good for the body: for the bones as well as for the teeth. If you are looking for a suitable toothpaste, you can - contrary to many assumptions - come back to a fluoride-containing toothpaste without hesitation. Numerous specialists, even the German Dental Association, have already confirmed this - such quantities are guaranteed to pose no danger.