You would have definitely heard about fluoride toothpaste.

But why do you think your dentist suggests using it rather than regular toothpaste?

This is because it gives your enamel extra protection and prevents cavities.

Fluoride essentially is a mineral that people add to water supplies, oral products, juices and even food.

It has oral benefits in protecting your teeth against decay.

Though, high levels of fluoride also pose a risk of toxicity and fluorosis.

This article discusses why you should use toothpaste with fluoride and how it protects teeth.

Keep reading below to know more!

toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste

What is a Fluoride Toothpaste?

Fluoride is a naturally found mineral in soil, rocks and water.

Yes, water contains some level of fluoride, however, some countries additionally add it in their drinking water.

Though, the amount of fluoride in water is different from that in toothpaste.

It is much less in water that is why you should not swallow toothpaste.

However, its quantity is still enough in the water to remove tooth decay by 25 percent.

The purpose of using toothpaste is to remove plaque that sets on your teeth.

This plaque can cause gingivitis and stain teeth over time.

However, it is just the beginning, over time if you do not treat plaque on teeth then gingivitis can worsen to form periodontal disease.

Toothpaste also contains other substances that gently remove the plaque and food debris that accumulates between your teeth.

Such as abrasives like calcium phosphate manage to remove food debris and other substances such as tannins from drinks stuck on your teeth.

Another abrasive found in toothpaste is calcium carbonate which works in a similar manner to remove particles without scratching teeth.

Besides, they also contain humectants.

Humectants retain water molecules.

Therefore they prevent the paste from hardening inside the tube.

Glycerol is a humectant.

Furthermore, like every other product on the shelf, it contains preservatives.

They not only increase shelf life but prevent microorganism growth inside the tube.

Binders bind water to the toothpaste to prevent it from drying.

Also, binders like sodium alginate give the paste its texture and elasticity.

Also, there are foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate, artificial flavors, sweeteners and anti-sensitivity agents like potassium nitrate.

A toothpaste containing fluoride will work to strengthen the enamel.

It also stops plaque from accumulating onto your teeth and prevent tooth decay.

More on this below!

cavity inside tooth

Fluoride Toothpaste Benefits

Did you know that fluoride helps form your enamel before your permanent teeth emerge?

When you use toothpaste before the eruption of adult teeth, it helps to develop the tooth enamel.

Therefore, it strengthens the developing tooth enamel, making it stronger to resist cavities.

Hence, children below seven years of age also benefit from fluoridated toothpaste.

As you become adults with permanent teeth, the paste reduces the capability of bacteria biofilms to produce acid once it sticks on.

Fewer acids on teeth, so fewer chances of cavities.

Therefore, you will not get a tooth cavity as long as you keep using it to strengthen enamel and slow acid production.

Furthermore, it also protects teeth from demineralization in fact it remineralizes teeth.

Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars to produce acids.

These acids erode the enamel, weakening and demineralizing it.

Instead, the paste helps to remineralize by bringing calcium and phosphate ions to strengthen the enamel.

Now this surface is acid-resistant.

It also slows down mineral loss from the enamel by remineralization.

If you use it on early tooth decay then you can even reverse it.

However, for cavities, you will have to get tooth fillings.

Besides slowing down the production of acids from plaque, it also reduces the growth of bacteria.

Therefore, there are plenty of benefits of including it in your oral hygiene routine.

However, it is also present in mouthwashes and water.

Fluoridated mouthwashes prevent cavities in teeth.

While its presence in water also keeps chances of decay minimal.

What’s more, is that if it is not present in your paste then your doctor will still recommend you to get tablets or drops.

Hence, it holds importance for your oral health and care.

But are there any risks of using it? There definitely are!

child brushing teeth

Is Fluoride Toothpaste Safe For Children?

You should begin your child’s oral care when they have no teeth.

Wiping clean their gums with lukewarm water prevents sugar accumulation on gums.

As soon as their baby teeth start erupting, you can start brushing their teeth.

Use paste the size of a grain of rice and not more.

However, children, this young do not have their swallowing reflexes.

So, they are likely to swallow the paste rather than spit it.

Hold their head slightly downwards so that the paste dribbles down.

Though, if they swallow a small amount then it’s nothing to worry about.

If it is a greater amount then they may get an upset stomach or you should go to the doctor for a checkup.

This is why toddlers should use fluoride-free toothpaste.

When your child turns three their swallowing reflexes work and they can spit.

The amount of toothpaste can also increase to a pea-size.

However, children may still swallow the paste.

While this amount is generally safe to swallow, regular swallowing can cause dental fluorosis.

Fluorosis forms white, yellow or brown spots on your teeth.

Your child can get this if they have high fluoride exposure till they are 8 years old.

Therefore, it is not only because of the paste but also water and juices containing fluoride.

Though it is generally mild or very mild with white spots that only a dentist can see, it can also worsen.

Severe cases include pits in the teeth and brown spots.

It is even harder to treat them as bleaching may exacerbate fluorosis.

However, preventing it is a better approach:

  • only give children pea-sized toothpaste
  • supervise them when they brush
  • reduce their fluoride intake in juices and water
  • visit your dentist regularly to check their teeth

There is also the risk of fluoride toxicity.

adult woman brushing teeth

Is it Safe For Adults?

Older children and adults can safely use fluoride pastes.

However, they should still remember that swallowing it can lead to fluoride toxicity.

Though, the amount in a paste is quite insignificant to cause it.

Though if you feel nauseous, vomit, have diarrhea and are feeling abdominal cramps after excess fluoride consumption then reach the emergency room.

There are risks of long term consumption of fluoride.

This risk is more due to its presence in water and mouthwashes.

The health risks associated with it include:

  • risk of bone fractures
  • acne
  • diabetes
  • immune system problems
  • cognitive defects
  • ADHD
  • low fertility
  • early puberty
  • bone cancer
  • TMD
  • neurological defects
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • thyroid problems
  • osteoarthritis
  • Low IQ

Therefore, the risks of long term fluoride exposure scare people from using toothpaste with fluoride.

However, fluoride pastes are rather safe to use.

In fact, they protect your teeth from damage.

Saving you from expensive dental procedures.

Though, if you are unsure, you can look for fluoride-free options.

They will clean your teeth and rid of plaque but will not be able to give you enamel protection.

Hence, your teeth will still be at risk of developing decay.

If that happens, your dentist can recommend you a high fluoride paste.

Your dentist prescribes it to people with severe damage from decay and a high risk of getting a cavity.

Though, do not use it with other members of your family.

Especially, keep it away from children.

So should you choose fluoride toothpaste or not? 

It is generally safe to use and even better for your teeth.

However, you should not give it to your children under 3 years old.

While purchasing a toothpaste containing fluoride, you should keep a few things in mind.

Such as:

choosing and applying fluoride toothpaste

Choosing a Toothpaste

If you really want to protect your teeth and avoid expensive dental procedures, go for fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride-free options will not provide enough protection.

Though, they may be useful for children under 3 years old.

However, if you still want to give them a fluoride option, use a paste with only 1000 parts per million(ppm) fluoride levels.

For children over 3 years old and beyond 1320-1500 ppm fluoride levels are ideal.

While choosing your paste, look for:

  • ingredients to reduce sensitivity
  • flavoring agents not containing sugar
  • ingredients preventing gingivitis
  • fluoride and ingredients that strengthen enamel and reduce erosion

Other than that, you can buy a paste addressing your own needs.

If you have bad breath, then you would like one containing fluoride that addresses your halitosis.

Similarly, tooth sensitivity is another concern with specific pastes to lessen it.

Popular fluoride toothpaste in the market include:

  • Colgate Cavity Protection
  • Sensodyne pronamel Gentle Whitening
  • Crest Gum Detoxify

Look for the ADA seal while purchasing any toothpaste.

Furthermore, once you have it, brush your teeth twice a day.

Brushing only once will not give you as much protection as brushing twice well.

Skipping the night lets the bacteria from the entire day stay in your mouth all night long.

Hence, you should brush regularly.

Additionally, floss once a day.

This helps to remove the stuck food particles and debris inside your mouth.

They no longer produce acids that can decay your teeth.

Therefore follow your oral care completely with your paste.

Finally, 

Fluoride toothpaste has more benefits than risks.

Adults can use it safely.

They can also supervise children to avoid swallowing.

Therefore, include it in your routine.

It can protect from cavities and decay inside your teeth.