The Pros and Cons of Fluoride in Toothpaste
Is Fluoride in Toothpaste Actually Bad for You?
What gave fluoride such a bad reputation and why are people so concerned about it in toothpaste, is natural toothpaste any better?
There are many things that we use on a daily basis that can be harmful to our health, some of those items used to be thought of as lifesavers, like tobacco used to be! New research and data can prove to us that we had it completely wrong.
Is this the case with fluoride? Fluoride is a chemical that is commonly added to toothpaste, mouthwash, and the public water supply. It might sound strange… but it’s all done in the name of good dental health.
What are the benefits of fluoride?
Fluoride is known for its enamel strengthening properties and for preventing cavities. It is added to toothpaste and local water for a similar reason; it is the most cost-effective way to protect the teeth of entire populations.
Fluoride naturally occurs in soil and water, but not in high enough concentrations to positively impact dental health. Fluoride is marketed to be great for rebuilding weakened tooth enamel (especially in children), reversing early signs of tooth decay, and preventing the growth of oral bacteria.
What's wrong with fluoride in toothpaste?
Studies have shown that too much consumption of fluoride can cause dental and skeletal fluorosis. Neither are life-threatening, but unenjoyable nonetheless.
Dental fluorosis occurs when too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are still growing under the gums. This causes white spots on the teeth, usually in children when they accidentally swallow toothpaste that has high amounts of fluoride. This doesn’t cause any pain or irritation but is simply a cosmetic problem.
On the other hand, skeletal fluorosis affects the bones and joints, causing stiffness and pain. This is also a result of consuming too much fluoride, usually in water.
Although it is rare, it is more common in parts of Asia and Africa where the water supply has higher concentrations of fluoride. This premature pain and stiffness can be frustrating to deal with, but it is unlikely to happen to most people from standard water consumption or from the use of dental products with fluoride.
So should I use toothpaste with fluoride?
The short answer: it's up to you! In the UK, over 50% of adults have one or more damaged or decayed teeth. If it is one of the most common health problems, fluoride should definitely be considered for your daily brushing routine.
Fluoride products have been a recipient of backlash from the plastic-free community but truthfully, not many products are 100% good for you all of the time.
Take these downsides with a grain of salt and remember that it is unlikely for fluorosis to occur if you are paying attention to how your teeth and body feel.
In our shop, you can find plastic-free toothpaste with or without fluoride. To reduce plastic pollution, we don’t stock tubed toothpaste. Instead our selection of natural toothpaste consists of tooth powder, tooth soap, and chewable tooth tablets to keep your mouth sparkly clean and healthy. It's your choice whether you use fluoride or fluoride-free toothpaste.
Did you learn something new? Let us know in the comments.