Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical, present in small amounts in air water and even some plants.
Fluoride should not be ingested as it can lead to poisoning, especially when consumed in large quantities. It can cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Children below six years are not recommended fluoride toothpaste because if the child swallows it, he may develop fluorosis. This interferes with the development of tooth enamel and can cause white spots and streaks on the teeth.
No type of toothpaste is meant to be swallowed. You should always spit the toothpaste while brushing especially if it contains fluoride.
Benefits of Fluoride in Toothpaste
Benefits of fluoride are achieved on topical application, which are as follows:
- Fluoride toothpaste is beneficial in maintaining good dental hygiene and improves overall dental health.
- Fluoride reduces plaque, removes tartar, cleans and protects teeth.
- Fluoride in the mouth can attract calcium and other minerals. Calcium is good for maintaining health and strong structure of the teeth.
- One of the benefits of Fluoride in toothpaste is that it helps in remineralization of teeth and also helps in healing the cavities.
Dangers of Fluoride
Fluoride causes much more harm to the body than good as it can travel to all parts of the body via the bloodstream. It can pass through the brain or placenta to the fetus when ingested. The body can get rid of only 50% of the fluoride ingested through urine, the rest 50% sticks around in the place where the body stores calcium such as inside the teeth, bones, and cartilage.(1) It also builds up in the pineal glands which regulate sleep(2)
Some of the danger of Fluoride on the body are reflected in the following ways.
- Fluorosis: Increase in fluoride source can lead to dental fluorosis which is presented as small, white, and brown spots on the teeth. Fluorosis impacts less than a quarter of people worldwide and doesn’t stay on permanent adult teeth, though many adults might show signs of fluorosis.(3) In a place with high levels of calcium fluoride in water, people develop a severe form of the condition known as crippling skeletal fluorosis which makes the bones rigid and brittle(4)
- Cancer: Fluoride ingestion might impact cancer incidence or death from cancer.(5, 6) Studies also found, osteosarcoma or bone cancer happening more often in fluoridating communities.
- Brain and Nervous System Damage: A study shows both prenatal and postnatal exposure of fluoride lead to deficits in cognition or attention.(7) Studies on exposure to fluoridated water show a drop in IQ scores.(8, 9)
- Other Disease Risks: Fluoride increases the risk of various other diseases such as bone fractures, early puberty, diabetes, and hypothyroidism. Fluoride in over-the-counter toothpaste is useless as it does not have enough of it to remineralize the teeth and also it contains a lot of chemical which are dangerous if swallowed. Fluoride-free toothpaste is strongly recommended for children.
Non-fluorinated toothpaste contains natural ingredients such as silica, cranberry extract, and xylitol which can prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the teeth and remove plaque. However, these toothpaste can be effective in cleaning the teeth but cannot strengthen the teeth like fluoride ones.