What is it?
In its free elemental form, fluoride is a trace mineral (like iodine) called fluorine. In nature, it is found only in compound forms, such as the ore fluorspar (calcium fluoride) in soil. It can be found in both fresh and sea water, in food (fish, bone meal, tea), and in our bodies as part of the bone. Sodium fluoride is an intermediate in the processing of fluoride into sodium monofluorophosphate. We use both forms of fluoride, depending on the product formulation and what can and can’t be used with certain ingredients. Our calcium carbonate-based toothpastes require the use of sodium monofluorophosphate. We use sodium fluoride in our anticavity gel toothpastes and our anticavity mouthwashes.
What does it do?
When formulated correctly and used as directed, fluoride toothpaste will help to safely and effectively prevent tooth decay. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated fluoride’s effectiveness in reducing cavities. Fluoride helps diminish demineralization of tooth enamel and even enhances the remineralization of potential decay spots.
How is it made?
What are the alternatives?
Fluoride is currently the only toothpaste ingredient recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent cavities. The FDA recognizes three forms of fluoride: sodium monofluorophosphate, sodium fluoride, and stannous fluoride and regulates the levels at which they can be included in toothpaste formulations. Consumers who do not wish to use an anti-cavity toothpaste may be interested to know that Tom’s of Maine also produces a line of fluoride-free toothpaste. 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?
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. Water fluoridation, by contrast, depends on fluoride ingestion.
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.