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For decades, fluoride has been considered dental science’s strongest force in fighting cavities and tooth decay.2 It’s the main reason most toothpastes on the market contain fluoride as its active ingredient.
Despite this, many adults prefer fluoride-free toothpaste for themselves or their children. Whether you’re concerned about dental fluorosis or an allergy, there are various reasons to use fluoride-free toothpaste.
Fortunately, there are lots of fluoride-free options available. Read on to learn more about the risks and benefits of fluoride and our top picks for fluoride-free toothpaste.
Like many brands on this list, Hello makes toothpastes with fluoride and without. We love that all Hello toothpastes are free of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a well-known irritant. They’re also free of gluten, artificial flavors, and dyes.
Tom’s of Maine fluoride-free toothpaste comes in a strawberry flavor kids will love. It’s formulated without artificial colors or preservatives.
This toothpaste contains SLS, which will make it foam up when your child brushes their teeth. However, it may irritate children with sensitive skin.
Dr. Brown’s baby toothpaste is specially formulated for children up to 3 years old. This is a great fluoride-free option for teaching your toddler good brushing habits.
It’s safe to swallow, meaning you don’t have to worry if your child can’t spit their toothpaste. Use a pea-size drop and brush their teeth and gums in small, circular motions twice daily.
Perioe is Korea’s leading oral health care brand. But people all over the world love this fluoride-free gel toothpaste and its innovative pump bottle.
The pump holds the equivalent of three standard tubes of toothpaste. You only need a pea-sized pump for all-day freshness.
Boka toothpaste is made with nano-hydroxyapatite (n-HA), a 100% non-toxic and biocompatible mineral. Like fluoride, n-HA fights tooth decay by remineralizing enamel.
Dr. Bronner’s is a well-known personal care brand specializing in all-natural ingredients. Their All-One toothpaste contains at least 70% organic ingredients, including coconut oil and essential oils.
Spry toothpaste is rich in natural ingredients like aloe, xylitol, and cranberry extract.
Xylitol fights tooth decay by preventing cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums. Aloe soothes previous irritation, and cranberry adds extra protection against bacteria and sensitivity.
Arm & Hammer is a popular oral care brand. Their Essentials toothpaste is made from 100% natural baking soda, activated charcoal, and essential oils.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent cavities. It’s the ionic form of fluorine, a trace element found in the Earth’s crust. Fluorine from rocks and soil is present in all natural water sources.
The link between fluoride and healthy teeth was discovered in 1901. After decades of research, Grand Rapids, Michigan began adding fluoride to its city water supply in 1945.
Researchers found that the rate of dental caries (cavities) in children dropped more than 60% after adding fluoride to the water supply.2
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using fluoride because it’s safe when consumed in appropriate quantities. It is also effective at preventing cavities and strengthening teeth.1
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, which occurs when bacteria mix with sugars and produce acid. The acid demineralizes your tooth enamel. This leads to further tooth decay and cavities.
Fluoride offers different advantages based on whether you use it directly on your teeth (fluoride toothpaste) or ingest it (fluoridated water). Benefits include:
Systemic fluoride is also present in your saliva, constantly protecting your teeth from decay.
Although fluoride has proven benefits, there are various reasons people opt for fluoride-free toothpastes instead. Potential risks of fluoride include:
Children who get too much fluoride may be at risk for dental fluorosis. This causes white spots, brown spots, or pitted stains to appear on the teeth.
Dental fluorosis is more of a cosmetic issue than a dental health concern. It doesn’t prevent permanent teeth from erupting normally.
To prevent fluorosis, the ADA recommends using a smear of fluoride toothpaste from the time your child gets their first tooth until age 3. Children age 3 to 6 should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Always supervise your children to ensure they aren’t swallowing the paste.
Though rare, some people are allergic to certain ingredients in toothpaste, including fluoride. A fluoride allergy may appear as swollen lips or a skin rash around the mouth.
Talk to your dentist about any concerns you may have about the effects of fluoride on a particular medical condition or treatment.
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Now that you’ve learned about the potential risks and benefits of fluoride, you may wonder if you should use fluoride-free toothpaste. Before deciding, discuss options and concerns with your dentist.
Reasons you may benefit from a non-fluoride toothpaste include:
Infants and toddlers under 2 may be too young to spit their toothpaste into the sink. If they swallow too much fluoride toothpaste, it may cause them to ingest more fluoride than their bodies can safely tolerate.
If you use a fluoride toothpaste with infants and toddlers, only apply a small amount on the brush.
Though more of a cosmetic concern than a threat to oral health, fluorosis is the main risk of fluoride.
Children who consume too much fluoride may develop white lines, specks, or brown stains on their teeth. Excessive fluoride levels are more likely to come from fluoridated water and supplements than dental health products.
Though rare, some people are allergic to fluoride. Some signs of a fluoride allergy include:
Talk to your dentist about any concerns you have regarding toothpaste ingredients.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in the Earth’s crust. It’s the active ingredient in many toothpastes because of its ability to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
People choose not to use fluoride toothpastes for various reasons. These include allergies and the risk of dental fluorosis. Many dental health brands have created fluoride-free toothpastes that reduce plaque, whiten teeth, and prevent cavities with other ingredients.
Always talk to your dentist if you’re concerned about toothpaste ingredients for you or your child.
No. Fluoride doesn’t clean your teeth. It can, however, strengthen your enamel and protect your teeth from cavities.
Your teeth get clean via the mechanical action of moving your toothbrush over the surface of each tooth. This removes plaque and food debris.
Yes. Nano-hydroxyapatite is a mineral that rebuilds tooth enamel the way fluoride does. It’s been the gold standard in Japan for more than 40 years.
It’s okay to use fluoride-free toothpaste. However, it may not be the best option for your oral health.
Fluoride plays an important role in keeping your teeth healthy. If you get enough of this mineral from other sources, like fluoridated water, you may not need it in your toothpaste.
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