Yes, fluoride has been shown to significantly prevent tooth decay. But it's also a toxin, many people believe this widespread additive isn't really doing us any favors. Take this quiz to find out how much you really know about your toothpaste and what should be in (or left out of) it.
Fluoride is the chemical ion of the element fluorine. Fluoride is the most basic unit of fluorine matter.
Fluoride can naturally be found in water, soil, food and a handful of minerals. Some communities also infuse their drinking water with it.
Widespread fluoridation began during the mid-20th century in the U.S., and today it's widely accepted as a means of preventing tooth decay.
Labs across the U.S. produce synthetic fluoride to put into both toothpaste and supplements prescribed by dentists and doctors. Many municipalities also add it to drinking water.
Fluoride has been shown to significantly prevent tooth decay, but it's technically a toxin. It's generally considered to be OK in small doses, but fluoride-free toothpaste is one way to manage or minimize the amount of fluoride you take in.
The most common symptom of consuming much fluoride is dental fluorosis, which is a permanent discoloration of the teeth. This is purely a cosmetic problem and does not pose a threat to your health. However, fluoride is a toxin and consuming it in large quantities can be fatal. Luckily, that's hard to do, as not even children can stomach downing multiple tubes of toothpaste, which is what it would take to overdose on the chemical.
Using fluoride-free toothpaste is an easy way to lesson your fluoride intake. You may also want to consider limiting your consumption of tap water if you live in an area where it's fluoridated.
You can purchase fluoride-free toothpaste in many of the same places toothpaste with fluoride is sold, such as your local grocery store, specialty markets or online. It does not require a prescription from your doctor or dentist.
Burt's Bees and Tom's of Maine are two common brands that offer a number of personal care products, including fluoride-free toothpaste. You can find them in stores like Whole Foods, Sunflower Market or your regular local grocery store.
Not only has the recommended amount of fluoride been debated for years, so has the topic of the negative effects of fluoride. Some say there is no serious downside, while others blame fluoride for all sorts of problems, including allergies, lower IQs, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. However, most of these claims are not widely accepted.
The U.S. government discovered unusually high counts of fluorosis in children. As a result, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in January, 2011 that it's proposing to lower the recommended level of fluoride in water. The fact that many people are taking in too much fluoride is a commonly held view among the mainstream public.
Fluoride-free toothpaste is available at many of the places regular toothpaste is sold, and it's cost is comparable. The main difference is simply the absence or presence of fluoride.
Dentists have been known to give too much fluoride to patients. Kids in the U.S. often receive extra fluoride supplements, tablets and vitamins as part of their regular dental check-ups.
It's commonly accepted that fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, so most people opt for toothpaste with fluoride in it. But there's a growing awareness that we may be getting too much fluoride, and many claim that it's dangerous. Only time will tell whether fluoride-free versions will be the consumers' product of choice in the years to come, but for now, pastes with fluoride are the norm.
There are many recipes for making your own fluoride-free toothpaste. Coconut oil is a common ingredient because it's naturally antibacterial and antifungal, so it kills harmful bacteria in your mouth. Plus, it's great for your gums. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that neutralizes acids that eat away at tooth enamel.
After mixing your homemade concoction completely, store it in a glass container with an airtight lid. It doesn't need to be refrigerated. Because the coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral, the mixture should stay clean and sanitary, as will your toothbrush!
Mint and other flavors are added to toothpastes with or without fluoride to make them more palatable. They make brushing a more pleasurable experience, but they aren't necessary.
Dental fluorosis causes teeth to appear discolored or spotted. It's an aesthetic problem, not a health problem.
Toothpastes used hundreds of years ago were intended to clean stains from teeth, not necessarily to improve the health of one's choppers. Although fluoride-free toothpastes evolved in part to help people avoid a purely cosmetic problem with discolored teeth, there is a much greater emphasis on oral health and hygiene than ever before.
Fluoride-free toothpaste is available over the counter, so you can start to use it immediately.