Fluoride in various forms is the most popular active ingredient in toothpaste to prevent cavities. Fluoride occurs in small amounts in plants, animals, and some natural water sources. The additional fluoride in toothpaste has beneficial effects on the formation of dental enamel and bones. Sodium fluoride (NaF) is the most common source of fluoride, but stannous fluoride (SnF2), olaflur (an organic salt of fluoride), and sodium monofluorophosphate (Na2PO3F) are also used. Stannous fluoride has been shown to be more effective than sodium fluoride in reducing the incidence of dental caries and controlling gingivitis.
Regular readers of our website, along with our patients, are well aware of the dangers of ingested fluoride. Less frequently we discuss the downsides to topical fluoride (like what you find in most toothpaste). Research that’s been done is spotty at best, but for the most part, research has shown that large doses of topical fluoride MAY have a positive effect on decay. Of course, at those large doses, fluoride is toxic (as Dr. Mercola points out, even the toothpaste label says it’s toxic).
Without too much preamble, here is Dr. Mercola’s video. I maintain that the potential benefits of topical fluoride do not out weigh the potential dangers. Especially when there are plenty of other products out there that can do the same thing without the same risk… why take that chance?
Parents should use toothpastes that contain fluoride with a minimum concentration of 1,000 parts per million to prevent tooth decay in their children, says a new report. Preventing tooth decay can help reduce the need for extensive and costly dental treatments, including extractions.
But the authors, in a second related study, suggest that parents concerned about the risk of fluorosis - the discolouration or mottling of the teeth caused by excessive fluoride ingestion - should consult their dentist to discuss the benefits and risks.
Researchers for the Cochrane Oral Health Group, based at the School of Dentistry, The University of Manchester, have previously shown that fluoride toothpastes reduce dental decay by 24% on average compared to non-fluoride products.
The group's latest research, which involved 79 trials on 73,000 children worldwide, examined the effect of different children's toothpastes and found that those with fluoride concentrations less than 1,000 parts per million were only as effective as non-fluoride toothpastes at preventing tooth decay. Children's toothpastes range from 100ppm to 1,400ppm fluoride concentration.
The report suggests that brushing a child's teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride before the age of 12 months may be associated with an increased risk of developing mild fluorosis. Swallowing large amounts of toothpaste may still cause fluorosis in children up to the age of six years when the permanent teeth are still developing, but using a small amount, carefully, will reduce these risks. After the age of six years, the teeth are fully developed and toothpaste can be used without fear of fluorosis.