While we all understand how important it is to regularly brush our teeth, it’s also important to understand that not all toothpaste is created equal.
There are countless brands, labels and types of toothpaste out there. However, there are only two main categories of toothpaste: those with fluoride and those without. To help you understand what fluoride is, what it does and why it’s so important, we’ve compiled the information below.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in the bones and teeth of animals, including humans. It’s also found in soil, water, plants and even rocks.
What Does Fluoride Do?
Fluoride helps stop, and even reverse, this process by re-mineralizing weakened tooth enamel, slowing down the loss of minerals and keeping it strong. Fluoride can also prevent the growth of the harmful oral bacteria that release acid.
When added to toothpaste, fluoride is applied topically to your teeth as you brush and will improve enamel strength on a daily basis.
Why Is Fluoride Toothpaste Important?
Dr. David Okano, a periodontist and professor at the University of Utah School of Dentistry, says the physical act of brushing and flossing your teeth will often be enough to remove the daily buildup of dental plaque that causes tooth decay and gum disease. The only benefit of non-fluoride toothpaste is a fresher feeling mouth and whitening agents for those who want whiter teeth.
Conversely, to protect and strengthen your teeth on a daily basis, your best tool is a toothpaste that includes fluoride.
Overall, a patient who uses fluoride toothpaste will have a lower chance of long-term dental issues than a patient who does not, even if both take equally good care of their oral hygiene.
Are There Any Risks to Using Fluoride Toothpaste?
While fluoride has numerous benefits when added to toothpaste, it is important to be aware of problems that can occur when an individual consumes or is exposed to excessive amounts of it.
For the majority of adults, using toothpaste with fluoride as directed will never result in any negative side effects.
However, excess fluoride can cause side-effects such as dental fluorosis, which results in white spots on the surface of your teeth. This
is most common in children, who are more likely to accidentally swallow toothpaste.
A more serious side-effect is skeletal fluorosis, which can cause joint pain, stiffness and over time, calcification of ligaments. Within the U.S., this is rarely seen and is more common in areas of the world that have large geologic deposits of fluoride.
Be sure to use toothpaste with fluoride and always rinse and spit it out once you’re finished brushing. That will keep your teeth protected and help enhance your smile.
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