One of the first things we notice about people is a shiny, white smile – the type of smile that lights up a room and causes others to smile back. Fluoride, found in most toothpastes, is a natural mineral that hardens tooth enamel, preventing cavities and helping to keep teeth healthy. However, for those who have a common sensitivity to fluoride as an additive in community water supplies, non-fluoride toothpaste is an effective alternative. Reasons for sensitivity can include the age of the brusher, aggressive tooth brushing or some other aversion.
So without the protection provided by fluoride, how does non-fluoride toothpaste protect teeth? The answer is in the ingredients. Let's take a look at the most commonly found active ingredients in some non-fluoride toothpastes and how these ingredients protect teeth.
Used as an alternative to sugar, Xylitol is a natural sweetener obtained from a variety of plants. It's widely found in fruits, vegetables, trees, and corncobs. Not only is it a wonderful sugar substitute for diabetics, but it also reduces plaque (one of the main contributors to gum disease) and helps prevent cavities.
Green Tea Extract
Although green tea is all the rage for many tea drinkers, it also has some valuable attributes when it comes to oral health. According to Hamilton-Miller of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, polyphenols are found in tea and contribute to the wide range of its beneficial effects. It also prevents bad breath, also known as halitosis, in its chronic form.
Papaya Plant Extract
Papayas are known for their treasure trove of black seeds, and they're loaded with potassium and vitamin C. But papain, the enzyme inside a papaya tree, possesses its share of benefits as well. Most notably, explains Saga, papaya plant extract helps to whiten teeth by removing surface stains thanks to the enzyme.
Oranges contain an abundance of citric acid. When plaque mineralizes on teeth, the result is a buildup of tartar. Citric acid assists in reducing the amount of tartar on teeth treated with it.
Similar to citric acid, notes the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, zinc citrate significantly aids in the reduction of plaque in the mouth. When left untreated, plaque collects on teeth and gums resulting in gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Zinc inhibits the production of the bacteria that contribute to gingivitis.
Bicarbonate of Soda
Also known as baking soda, bicarbonate of soda serves multiple purposes when it comes to teeth cleaning. Like some of the above ingredients, bicarbonate of soda fights plaque. It also functions as a stain-remover, which leads to a brighter smile.
If toothpaste with fluoride isn't for you, going the non-fluoride route can clean your teeth just as well. But as part of any good oral health plan, be sure to include flossing every day and regular visits to your dentist.
Learn more about fluoride in toothpastes in the Colgate Oral Care resources.