Does Fluoride-Free Toothpaste Work? Some Experts Question The Benefits of ‘Natural’ Toothpaste

Natural products like fluoride-free toothpaste get a lot of positive attention from chemical-conscious consumers. However, the same can’t be said for professionals. While some professionals recognize the harmful effects of fluoride in toothpaste, others look past the negatives and focus on one positive: cavity prevention.

toothbrush, toothpaste

Thanks to the natural product movement, fluoride-free toothpaste is more popular than ever. | iStock/Getty Images

Fluoride is a crucial component in most mainstream toothpaste formulas as it is believed to protect the teeth from tooth decay. But, like many perceived harmful ingredients, it is also linked to various health concerns that consumers want no part in. That, paired with the trendiness of natural products is a significant reason why many prefer fluoride-free toothpaste.

Does fluoride-free toothpaste work the same as dentist-recommended formulas? Keep reading to find out why experts question (and consumers rave about) the benefits of fluoride-free toothpaste.

Does fluoride-free toothpaste work?

There’s a big divide in the benefits of fluoride-free toothpaste — and for a good reason. With the “natural” movements taking the beauty and wellness world by storm, many consumers do their research before using products recommended by dentists and doctors. While education can be a great thing, it can also confuse and ultimately lead to a difference of opinion between medical professionals and consumers.

Many dentists are concerned about the number of consumers switching to natural, fluoride-free toothpaste. As of right now, Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening Fluoride-Free Toothpaste holds the number two spot for top-selling toothpaste on Amazon. That said, Tom’s of Maine brand manager, Paul Jessen made it clear that the company’s fluoride-free products do not promise cavity prevention and, for the most part, its customers understand that.

Despite dentist concerns, the jury is still somewhat out on whether or not fluoride-free toothpaste works. On the one hand, brushing the excess plaque off the teeth can help prevent tooth decay. And on the other hand, dentists believe you need the fluoride to protect against cavities. One thing that is not confusing? Flossing. According to some reports, flossing is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay caused by food particles.

Brushing your teeth doesn’t stop tooth decay

Think brushing your teeth is a must to prevent tooth decay? As it turns out, many dentists see it differently. According to some dental professionals, toothbrushes are only necessary because they help deliver necessary ingredients — such as fluoride — to the teeth. So, it’s not the brush; it’s the toothpaste. Because many professionals see fluoride as a necessary step in cavity prevention, fluoride-free toothpaste is not typically condoned by dentists. “It’s really important to debunk this idea that brushing your teeth stops decay,” Damien Walmsley, a scientific advisor to the British Dental Association and dentistry professor at the University of Birmingham told Associated Press. “You need to have the fluoride,” he added.

Consumers believe brushing prevents cavities

When it comes to brushing, there seems to be some confusion around the benefits. According to some reports, consumers think it is brushing that prevents cavities — not toothpaste. Some dentists also believe removing plaque build up with a toothbrush can reduce chances of tooth decay. However, as we previously mentioned, a majority of dental professionals think the toothbrush is “just a delivery system” for cavity-fighting ingredients such as fluoride.

Harmful effects of fluoride in toothpaste

The harmful effects of fluoride in toothpaste are one of the main reasons many consumers made the switch to fluoride-free toothpaste. According to the Global Healing Center, some of the top concerns include arthritis, female puberty acceleration, kidney health, toxic to the thyroid, and adverse cognitive effects.

How cavities form

For a long time, many dentists believed that cavities are a result of poor mouth hygiene. Brushing and flossing help remove food remnants, which can prevent their acids from wearing away enamel and causing cavities to form. However, some theories consider cavity formation in a different light. According to a review by the Associated Press, cavities aren’t a result of poor hygiene; they’re a result of not flossing. The review suggests tooth decay forms on enamel where a toothbrush or string of floss can’t reach. As a result, a cavity starts to form.

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