Should you be using a fluoride-free toothpaste? The answer has a lot to do with your age. Other factors also play a role, such as whether you are already getting enough fluoride.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water sources. Sometimes, additional fluoride may be added to a community's water because it has been shown to help prevent cavities. Fluoride makes teeth stronger and more resistant to cavity-forming acids, working to prevent decay long before you would even notice it.
Brief History of Fluoride
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, fluoride research was initiated in part by Dr. Frederick McKay back in 1901. He joined forces with Dr. Green Vardiman Black to conduct research concerning the brown stains on teeth. They both presented information to the Colorado State Dental Association in 1909. Chemist H.V. Churchill started his own research several years later, studying the water supply in a city where teeth staining was an issue. He discovered that high levels of fluoride were the main culprit for the stains.
By the 1940s, it was known that fluoride in regulated amounts would help prevent cavities. It's now standard practice for water to be infused with fluoride to ensure that people get an adequate amount. Some foods, beverages, toothpastes, supplements and even some mouthwashes now contain it as well.
Should You Use a Fluoride-Free Toothpaste?
If you have a child under the age of two, the child should definitely be using a fluoride-free toothpaste, such as My First Colgate™. According to the American Dental Association, a child can swallow too much fluoride, especially at the ages of two and under, when it's tough to teach them to spit out toothpaste. When too much fluoride is taken in, it can lead to dental fluorosis, as detailed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This particular condition causes discoloration or pitting on the teeth. It may appear as brown spots, scattered white specks or white spots. The teeth may even feel rough.
Opt for a toothpaste without fluoride if you're allergic to fluoride. You may also want to choose a different toothpaste if you have certain medical conditions, but only a physician can tell whether switching toothpastes may benefit you. Additionally, you may already obtain enough fluoride through food, beverages and other sources, so make sure you speak to your dentist or physician about your current fluoride intake.