Some people swear by using a fluoride toothpaste as they are convinced that they absolutely need it to keep their teeth healthy and free of cavities. No wonder as this is what dentists recommend. But is fluoride toothpaste actually needed?
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I’ve been using natural fluoride-free toothpastes for years now and my teeth are in very good condition. In fact, when I go to a dentist every now and then (normally every 2 years), my dentist always tells me how good my teeth are, really healthy, with no issues.
I haven’t had a filling in probably around 10 years but if I say it’s because of fluoride-free toothpaste I’d be lying. I believe my teeth are so healthy because I drink lots of green tea. And one important thing: I used to have more fillings done at the dentist when I was using fluoride toothpaste many years ago – this means fluoride toothpaste wasn’t very good at protecting my teeth.
How green tea protects your teeth
Green tea is full of antioxidants which are antibacterial and help to reduce inflammation in your mouth.
If you have gingivitis (the inflammation of gums) drinking green tea should help especially if this gum disease is in its early stages.
What’s more, green tea is naturally rich in fluoride and has been proven to keep teeth healthy.
Green tea also suppresses certain enzymes in saliva (amylase) which help to contribute towards the development of dental caries.
Now, I am not suggesting to drink green tea instead of using fluoride toothpaste but it’s good to know that there are other ways of keeping your teeth healthy. And this is just one of them.
Fluoride toothpaste: Benefits and side effects
If you are trying to understand whether fluoride toothpaste is bad or good and whether you absolutely need to use it to keep your teeth healthy, this is a big debate around the world. Everybody has their own opinion and will try to convince you either way. The best is to do your own research and decide for yourself what’s best for your teeth.
In summary, there are two main good things about fluoride toothpaste:
- Based on research it helps to prevent tooth decay
- Fluoride helps to remineralise teeth which means it helps to repair enamel (the outer layer of teeth).
On the other hand, using fluoride toothpaste doesn’t come without side effects:
- Fluoride is harmful when consumed in excessive quantities – it can result in a condition called fluorosis which can easily happen in young children who often swallow toothpaste when brushing teeth. This happens over time and is also a result of consuming too much fluoride from other sources such as water, foods and fluoride tablets.
- Excessive fluoride causes bone problems – some studies have shown that extra fluoride may increase the risk of bone fractures and makes bones more brittle.
Too much fluoride also has other negative effects, one of them being excessive production of free radicals.
Despite everything, dentists insists it’s safe and effective to use fluoride toothpaste.
I guess if you are careful and don’t swallow the toothpaste on purpose then you will get minimal amounts of fluoride into your body from the toothpaste but how much really? That really depends on how often you brush your teeth, how much toothpaste you use and how well you rinse your mouth afterwards. And what about the fluoride you are getting from other sources?
Most people won’t know how much fluoride they are consuming. You may think you don’t consume much when in reality you consume a lot.
Benefits of fluoride-free toothpaste
When using fluoride-free toothpaste you don’t have to worry about toxicity that comes with fluoride and there are other benefits as well.
For example, conventional fluoride toothpaste contains SLSs (sulphates) which increase the risk of mouth ulcers. Fluoride-free toothpaste, on the other hand, doesn’t normally contain this ingredient.
Fluoride-free toothpastes tend to contain more natural ingredients and fewer potentially harmful ingredients such as artificial colours, additives and triclosan. This means you are exposing your body to fewer toxins that could be harmful to your health when using fluoride-free toothpaste. Although, if you really want to use fluoride-toothpaste but avoid other toxins there are natural toothpastes out there with fluoride added to them.
Should you use fluoride-free toothpaste?
Fluoride-free toothpaste is perfectly safe to use as long as you also take other measures to keep your teeth healthy.
If you are worried about cavities, then make sure you don’t consume sugar in excess as this is the biggest cause of tooth decay.
If your concern is the loss of minerals in your teeth (demineralization) then educate yourself on what causes this and how you can avoid it naturally. There are many different things you can do and one of the most important ones is to eat the right kind of food.
Your diet should contain enough minerals and fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. In some cases you may need to supplement to consume enough minerals and vitamins that can help your teeth stay healthy.
If you do decide to use fluoride-free toothpaste, here are some brands to consider:
The bottom line
You don’t need to use fluoride toothpaste to keep your teeth healthy. Instead, fluoride-free toothpaste is perfectly fine to use, just make sure you also take other measures to ensure good oral health such as eating a healthy and balanced diet. Taking supplements may also help.
Note: We are not qualified to give medical advice so always consult your dentist first before changing your toothpaste.