In recent years, fluoride-free toothpaste has emerged as a significant topic in the world of oral health, driven by growing concerns over the potential toxicity of fluoride in water and the risk of fluorosis. Fluoride, long celebrated for its cavity-preventing properties, has faced scrutiny due to reports and studies suggesting its overexposure might lead to health issues.
Dental fluorosis, in particular, manifests as changes in the appearance of tooth enamel in children who have been excessively exposed to fluoride during their teeth’s development. This controversy has sparked a debate about the safety and necessity of fluoride in dental products, leading to a rise in the popularity of fluoride-free toothpastes.
Here are some key takeaways based on scientific research and recommendations from reputable institutions to help you understand better.
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Read also our article about Vegan Toothpastes.
Table of Contents
Is Fluoride Toothpaste Toxic?
No, Fluoride toothpaste is not toxic.
There is widespread misinformation regarding fluoride, including claims that it is harmful to both the environment and health. In reality, fluoride is naturally present in the environment. Drinking water represents the main source of exposure to fluoride for humans.
Fluoride is commonly added to drinking water globally, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggesting a concentration of 0.7 parts per million.
Small amounts of fluoride are beneficial for the development of bones and teeth, but prolonged exposure to high levels of fluoride can negatively impact human health according to various studies.
What Are The Risks Of Using Too Much Fluoride?
Excessive fluoride exposure during tooth development can lead to dental fluorosis in children. Recent research highlights that while fluoride at low levels strengthens tooth enamel, too much can cause dental fluorosis, characterized by white spots, lines, or mottled enamel and weak mineralization. This condition typically affects children from birth to around nine years old, a crucial period for tooth formation.
A CDC survey revealed that about 25% of Americans aged 6 to 49 exhibit signs of dental fluorosis.
According to this Harvard study, “Extremely high levels of fluoride are known to cause neurotoxicity in adults, and negative impacts on memory and learning have been reported in rodent studies”.
However, the fluoride concentrations in toothpaste and water are significantly lower than these harmful levels.
Does Fluoride Prevent Cavities?
Yes, Fluoride helps prevent cavities.
Using fluoride toothpaste is a proven method to prevent cavities. It works by enhancing mineralization and strengthening tooth enamel against acid.
Toothpastes with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance all contain fluoride.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized water fluoridation as one of the 20th century’s major public health successes due to its role in reducing tooth decay.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also endorses fluoridated toothpaste for cavity prevention, supported by extensive clinical research. For instance, a review of 54 studies found that fluoride toothpaste significantly lowers the risk of dental caries, particularly at 1500 ppm compared to 1000 ppm.
The WHO highlights that maintaining a low fluoride level in the mouth continuously is the most effective way to prevent dental caries. In 2019, the Cochrane Collaboration, known for thorough and independent research, reviewed a hundred studies and confirmed that fluoridated toothpastes are more effective than non-fluoridated ones in cavity prevention.
This advice is valid for adults, not for children. Indeed, during the period of tooth mineralization, an excess of fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, which is mainly characterized by stains on the teeth. For younger children, prefer a “special child” toothpaste. The fluoride levels recommended by health authorities are as follows:
- Before 3 years, 500 ppm (50 mg/100 g) or less;
- From 3 to 6 years, 500 ppm;
- From 6 years, between 1,000 and 1,500 ppm.
Beyond 10 years, a toothpaste with a higher fluoride content can be used in cases where the risk of cavities is high. Care should be taken that the child does not ingest too much toothpaste.
Is Fluoride Really Necessary For Your teeth?
Medical research has long established that fluoride in toothpaste is effective in preventing tooth decay and cavities, leading to most toothpastes containing 1,000 to 1,100 mg/L of sodium fluoride or monofluorophosphate.
However, recent findings challenge this notion. A study by Poznan University of Medical Sciences, involving 171 participants over 18 months, demonstrated that both hydroxyapatite and fluoridated toothpastes are equally effective in preventing cavities.
4 Best Fluoride-Free Toothpastes
RADIUS – USDA Organic Toothpaste
Best Organic Fluoride-Free Toothpastes
Size | 3 oz (85 g)
Non-Toxic Features | Fluoride Free, USDA Organic, PETA Cruelty Free, Certified Organic by Ecocert ICO, SLS/SLES Free, Non GMO, BPA Free
Price | $9.9
Customer Rating | 4.6/5 stars over 994 ratings
Customer Review | “Love not having to put harmful ingredients in my mouth for dental care..I also love the minty freshness it leaves in my mouth after ” Tiffany
This Fluoride-free toothpaste is organic, and non-toxic: free from fluoride, SLS/SLES, GMOs. It’s USDA Organic, and PETA Cruelty Free certified.
The toothpaste is made with natural components like mint, tea tree, aloe, and antibacterial neem, along with organic chamomile flower and rice powder, ensuring cavity prevention and a gentle polish for a sparkling smile.
RADIUS®, a women-owned, family-run company, commits to sustainable practices, manufacturing in their own US-based, eco-friendly factory.
Boka – Ela Mint Toothpaste
Best Fluoride-Free Toothpastes with Nano Hydroxyapatite
Size | 4oz – 113g
Non-Toxic Features | Fluoride Free, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free, Artificial Flavors Free, Paraben Free, Vegan and Cruelty-Free
Price | starts at $10.79
Customer Rating | 4.6/5 stars over 26,420 ratings
Customer Review | “I’m extremely picky, and this is my go to toothpaste now! It tastes amazing. It’s a white color like normal toothpaste, has a very smooth texture it’s not grainy or nasty like some other natural toothpaste I have tried. It was really amazing and I love the way it makes my teeth feel!” Marlena
Ela Mint Toothpaste is a new fluoride-free toothpaste designed for gum health and enamel repair. It features Nano Hydroxyapatite (NHA) instead of fluoride for effective cleaning and remineralization, enhancing tooth enamel health and whitening.
Dentist-recommended and 100% biocompatible, it’s free from sulfates, parabens, artificial flavors, and colors. Ideal for sensitive teeth.
The toothpaste offers a unique Ela Mint flavor, combining refreshing mint, antioxidant-rich green tea, and a hint of cardamom for a revitalizing brushing experience.
hello – Kids Natural Watermelon
Best Fluoride-Free Toothpastes For Kids
Size | 4.2 Oz – 119g
Non-Toxic Features | Fluoride Free, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Free, Bisphenol A Free, Phthalate Free, Vegan, Not tested on animals (Leaping Bunny Certified), and Made in the USA
Price | starts at $4.72
Customer Rating | 4.7/5 stars over 22,879 ratings
Customer Review | “We looked for a fluoride free toothpaste option for our kids and this did the trick. They took a little bit to get used to the flavor, but now they like it.” Allen
Hello Kids’ fluoride-free toothpaste is perfect for kids, even those just starting to brush.
This toothpaste includes quality ingredients like xylitol, erythritol, soothing aloe vera, and a gentle silica blend for polishing teeth. It’s specially formulated to be friendly and safe for little mouths.
Not only does it polish and brighten teeth, but it also removes plaque. The fluoride-free toothpaste is free from dyes, SLS, artificial sweeteners and flavors, microbeads, triclosan, and gluten.
Tom’s of Maine – Antiplaque & Whitening Natural Toothpaste
Best Fluoride-Free Toothpastes For Whitening
Size | 5.5 oz – 155.9g
Non-Toxic Features | Fluoride-Free, Free from Gluten, Paraban, Trisoclan, Formaldehyde, Artificial Color, Dye, Mineral Oil, Phthalate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), Deithanolamine (DEA).
Price | start at $6.26
Customer Rating | 4.7/5 stars over >40,000 ratings
Customer Review | “i liked it for many reasons, 1 . you dont have to use alot to get job done 2. its not sweet, but tastes great and leaves mouth feeling fresh even without mouthwash 3. my kid likes it 4. tube lasts longer than other brands 5. you can use most of the tooth paste down to the last drop without wasting it (my pet peeve) 6. its not different colors, just white and foams well as any other past and finally 7. it doesnt stick to everything like regular toothpaste, easy to clean up”
Tom’s of Maine fluoride-free toothpaste fights tartar buildup and whitens teeth by removing surface stains.
Infused with a refreshing peppermint flavor, this toothpaste comes in a recyclable tube. As a Certified B Corp, Tom’s of Maine adheres to the highest social and environmental standards and are committed to supporting local communities by donating 10% of their profits to health, education, and environmental charities.
This toothpaste is free from artificial sweeteners, preservatives, colors, or flavors and is not tested on animals.
Is it better to have fluoride free toothpaste?
Whether fluoride-free toothpaste is better depends on individual needs and preferences. Fluoride was proven effective in preventing tooth decay and strengthening enamel, so it’s often recommended for people at high risk of cavities.
However, a recent study showed that both hydroxyapatite and fluoridated toothpastes are equally effective in preventing cavities.
What happens when you stop using fluoride toothpaste?
Stopping the use of fluoride toothpaste may lead to a higher risk of cavities, especially if you’re not getting fluoride from other sources like drinking water. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth enamel and prevent decay.
Which brand of toothpaste has no fluoride?
Several brands offer fluoride-free toothpaste options. Some popular ones include:
-Tom’s of Maine: They offer a range of fluoride-free toothpaste options.
-Hello: Known for their natural ingredients and flavors like watermelon and charcoal.
-Dr. Bronner’s: Offers organic fluoride-free toothpaste.
-Burt’s Bees: Known for their natural products, including fluoride-free toothpaste.
-Jason: Offers a variety of fluoride-free options.
Hazardous Ingredients You Should Avoid In Toothpaste
1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or SLS
Essentially used as a surfactant (which allows the substances in the formulation to blending correctly), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a well-known irritant. Scientists have known about it for decades, their publications designated it as “the standard irritant”. The substance is also frequently used to induce “experimental contact dermatitis”. According to Dr. Talbot, SLS is present in 85% of toothpaste.
This powerful antibacterial agent was still widely used a few years ago. Since then, it has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor in many ways: it would not only act on estrogen hormones but also on thyroid function.
3. Isobutyl, Isopropyl, Benzyl, Pentyl, Phenylparaben
Parabens are preservatives considered to be endocrine disruptors.
Not all parabens are bad though. Ethylparaben and Methylparaben are considered safe.
4. Titanium Dioxide
There are concerns about the toxicity of this substance, especially in toothpastes and lipsticks where there is a risk to ingest it.
Image Credit: All photos belong to respective brands. Prices are the ones at the time of the article publication.