Fluoride toothpaste, fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in soil, water, and food. Today, fluoride is added to toothpaste, mouthwashes, salt, and water to reduce the prevalence of dental caries. Several studies in the early 1930s found that people who drink naturally fluoridated water had up to 2/3 fewer cavities compared to those who don’t drink fluoridated water. The American Dental Association(ADA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the use of fluoride in water supplies to prevent dental caries in both children and adults.
Fluoride is the most popular active ingredient in the toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste is the best protection against dental caries, the decline in caries in the past 25 years is due to the widespread use of fluoride toothpaste.
Dental Caries Development and Fluoride Toothpaste
Tooth enamel is the outer layer of the tooth and the hardest substance in the human body. It consists mainly of calcium and phosphate. The mouth contains many microorganisms such as Streptococcus mutans. These bacteria decompose carbohydrates from the diet and produce acids. These acids dissolve calcium and phosphate out of the enamel and soften it. This process is known as “Demineralization”. Fluoride toothpaste counteracts this process. It improves the remineralization process of teeth, hardens them and makes them more resistant to acids. It also inhibits bacterial growth.
How Fluoride Toothpaste Fights Dental Caries?
- It inhibits the demineralization process and improves the remineralization process by accelerating the return of calcium and phosphate from the saliva to the enamel surface.
- Fluoride is incorporated into the tooth enamel and helps to neutralize the harmful acid.
- Fluoride toothpaste forms a protective layer around the tooth enamel and protects the tooth from acids attack (demineralization).
- Fluoride toothpaste inhibits the production of harmful acids by disturbing the metabolism of caries bacteria.
- Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste removes dental plaque and makes teeth surfaces smoother so that the bacteria can’t adhere to teeth surfaces.
Recommended Fluoride Toothpaste
The brushing of teeth with fluoride toothpaste starts with the eruption of first tooth (about six months of age). Parents should supervise brushing to 7 years of age to avoid over ingestion of toothpaste and ensure adequate plaque removal. The amount of fluoride contained in toothpaste is measured by “parts per million” fluoride (ppm F) and can be found on the side of the tube.
- Children under 3 years old: their teeth should be cleaned by a smear of toothpaste containing a maximum of 500 ppm F.
- Children under 3-6 years old: their teeth should be cleaned by a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing 1000 ppm F.
- Adults: they should clean their teeth with fluoride toothpaste containing 1,500 ppm F.
Toothpaste alone is not sufficient for the prevention of dental caries. It should be used in combination with a dental floss, healthy diet, and regular checks at the dentist.