Fluoride is an extremely important development in the history of dental health. Even just the introduction of fluoridation in drinking water reduces tooth decay by about 25%. Fluoride toothpaste is even more effective, and regular use can provide a big boost when fighting cavities. What you may not have noticed about fluoride toothpaste is that the fluoride concentration differs between certain brands. So let’s ask the question - is a higher fluoride percentage is good in toothpastes?
Today fluoride is the most important ingredient in over the counter dental care items. Proper application of fluoride on your teeth is certainly not rocket science. Simply brush twice daily for 2-3 minutes with an ADA (American Dental Association) approved fluoride toothpaste. You’ll want to avoid swallowing any of the fluoride toothpaste. Now many companies make toothpaste without fluoride and instead feature ingredients like mint and tea tree oil. While these products will freshen your breath, they don’t remineralize teeth like fluoride, so using it will put you at greater risk for cavities.
A recent study by the Cochrane Oral Health Group found that slightly increasing the concentrations of fluoride in toothpaste resulted in less cavity growth in the patient. So in the case of adult teeth, a higher fluoride percentage is beneficial. Certain adults may even be issued prescription toothpaste by their dentist. Prescription toothpaste contains even higher concentrations of fluoride to protect against cavities for those that experience more advanced tooth decay. Different types of prescription toothpaste will also treat conditions like dry mouth or sensitivity.
Children too benefit from fluoride toothpaste, but using a higher fluoride percentage makes it more likely that children might develop fluorosis. But what exactly is fluorosis? It is the appearance of white streaks on the teeth that happens when children use fluoride or drink too much fluoridated water while their adult teeth are still developing. While the condition itself doesn’t impact the health of teeth, parents will want to keep fluoride use moderate until all the adult teeth have emerged from the gums. Children will not want to use prescription toothpaste that is issued to adults, so make sure you buy your child their own toothpaste designed for younger teeth. Swallowing prescription toothpaste can be especially dangerous to children who haven’t developed good spitting habits while brushing.
As the Cochrane study suggests, yes shopping for a higher fluoride toothpaste could be beneficial in preventing cavities better than a lower concentration toothpaste. However, this is not the case for children, and they should only use ADA approved toothpastes designed with low fluoride concentrations. If you need recommendations on the best toothpaste to use, or you want to investigate the benefits of prescription toothpaste, schedule a consultation with Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry. We can also help choose the best toothpaste for your children. Contact us today to learn more.