Should I use fluoride or fluoride-free toothpaste?

There’s no shortage of toothpaste options that are intended to whiten teeth, protect enamel, or work with sensitive teeth. One question you might be asking yourself is, “Should I use fluoride or fluoride-free toothpaste?” It’s a simple question that requires a brief overview of the benefits and potential drawbacks of using “nature’s cavity fighter.” Read on to learn more. 

Fluoride Basics

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. For the last 70 years, the mineral has been used to prevent tooth decay in the United States and across the globe. Fluoride works by hardening the surface of enamel. This unique property allows fluoride to prevent the development of tooth decay.

Cavities form due to the interaction of bacteria, plaque, tartar (calcified plaque), and food particles found in your saliva. As bacteria feed off food particles, the microbes release acid that demineralizes enamel. Over time, small pits can form that eventually grow into cavities. By hardening the surface of teeth, fluoride (and fluoride toothpaste) can play an important role in preventing dental problems. 

Benefits of Fluoride

The American Dental Association has found that fluoride is “safe and effective” at preventing cavities. When used in safe levels under the guidance of an oral health professional, fluoride is extremely safe. Numerous health and governmental organizations and agencies support the use of fluoride due to the enormous health benefits the mineral offers. 

Fluoride can safely be added to oral hygiene products. Dentists across the United States regularly apply fluoride as a topical paste that is absorbed into enamel. The main benefit of fluoride is a significantly lower risk of developing tooth decay, which can lower the need for invasive restorative treatments. 

Potential Risks

Much has been made about the dangers of fluoridation by holistic dentists and bloggers who voice concerns about the dangers of fluoride use. As with any substance, overexposure to fluoride can lead to certain health risks, which is one reason over-the-counter products often contain only a trace amount of fluoride. 

Clinical dental fluorosis causes pitting and staining of teeth. In severe cases, skeletal fluorosis can develop. The condition arises from the accumulation of fluoride in the bones, which can eventually lead to stiffness in the joints and joint pain. 

A recent publication in JAMA Pediatrics found that pregnant women should avoid fluoride in order to lower the risk of cognitive impairment in their child. The research found that fluoride can lead to children having a lower IQ (typically by only a few points). 

Which Option Is Right for Me?

The choice to use or not use fluoride is a personal one. Dr. Rod Gleave or a member of our staff will never pressure our patients into using fluoride. It should be noted that fluoride has a very long track record of safety. While pregnant women should be aware of the potential dangers of fluoride, healthy children and adults can safely use the products.

If fluoride is placed in higher concentrations at our office as part of preventative treatment, our dental team will ensure that the products contain a safe and non-toxic concentration of fluoride and that the treatments do not reach sensitive gum tissue. 

Schedule Your Next Visit with Dr. Rod Gleave Today

Fluoride can be an effective tool in the fight against gum disease. We want all of our patients to understand the pros and cons of this useful mineral. To schedule your next appointment, please call our office at (801) 747-8531.

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