What is it?
Sodium fluoride is one of three types of fluoride recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help prevent dental cavities.
What does it do?
Sodium fluoride in toothpaste and mouthwash safely and effectively helps to prevent tooth decay, when formulated correctly and used as directed. Fluoride helps diminish demineralization of tooth enamel and enhances the remineralization of potential weak spots, strengthening the enamel.
How is it made?
In its free elemental form, fluoride is a trace mineral (like iodine) called fluorine. Fluoride can be found in both fresh and sea water, in food (e.g., fish, tea), and in the bones of our bodies. In nature, it is found only in compound forms, such as the ore fluorspar (calcium fluoride) in soil and rock. To form sodium fluoride, hydrogen fluoride (derived from fluorspar) is neutralized by sodium hydroxide from brine, and dried into a powder.
What are the alternatives?
Fluoride is currently the only active ingredient in toothpaste that is regulated by the FDA, per the Anticaries Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use, Final Monograph, to help prevent cavities and there are no other ingredients that can make a cavity prevention and enamel strengthening claim. The FDA recognizes three types of fluoride: sodium monofluorophosphate, sodium fluoride, and stannous fluoride and regulates the levels at which they can be included in toothpaste or mouthwash formulations. Tom’s of Maine uses two types of fluoride, depending on product formulation and what can and cannot be used with certain ingredients. We believe that toothpastes with fluoride are best to support one's oral health for strong and healthy teeth. We respect that not everyone wants fluoride in their oral care products, which is why we also offer natural toothpastes and mouthwashes without fluoride so consumers can choose what is best for their families and fits their values. We feel it is important to offer individuals a choice and trust that they will work with their dental care professionals to establish an oral care regimen that is right for them.
Is this the right option for me?
Sodium fluoride is recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Community (EC) as safe and effective as an anti-cavity agent in oral care products. The safety of fluoride has been reviewed extensively by the National Research Council (NRC, 2006), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR, 2003), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, 2005, 2008), the Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products (SCCNFP, 2003), the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP, 2005), and International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC, 2002). All fluoride toothpastes marketed in the US are required by the FDA to bear certain warning language that caution against accidental ingestion. Most of the concerns raised about fluoride have stemmed from controversy surrounding the fluoridation of municipal drinking water supplies. The question of mass fluoridation of public water is an entirely separate issue from including fluoride in toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste is applied directly to the surface of the teeth, delivers a benefit, and is immediately rinsed out.
Tom’s of Maine recognizes that no two people are alike, and even with naturally derived ingredients, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction that is unique to them. As with any product, be sure to discontinue use if you experience discomfort or other indications that the product may not be appropriate for your individual body chemistry.