You may have heard a lot about the benefits of fluoride in oral care products and in your community water. But did you know there are actually three types of fluoride compounds?
- Sodium fluoride (NaF)
- sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP)
- Stannous fluoride (SnF2)
Don't worry, this isn't a chemistry lesson. But it's helpful to know more about one of those three compounds: stannous fluoride. This type of fluoride has powerful benefits that make it an important part of oral care products.
What does fluoride do?
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel, which is why it’s often found in oral care products. In fact, fluoride is considered such an essential ingredient in toothpaste that the American Dental Association (ADA) only awards its ADA Seal of Acceptance to toothpastes that contain it. There are several forms of fluoride that you may find in your toothpaste, one of them being stannous fluoride.
Fluoride toothpaste, including stannous fluoride toothpaste, helps fight cavities and prevent tooth decay by preventing demineralisation and repairing damaged tooth enamel before a cavity develops, an issue that requires treatment by a dentist. Learn more about fluoride and how it works.
What is stannous fluoride?
Stannous fluoride is a common active ingredient in toothpaste and has been recognised by the American Dental Association (ADA) as an effective agent in reducing tooth decay. The difference between stannous fluoride and other fluoride types is that it includes key benefits such as:
- Anti-cavity: While all fluoride types have been proven to help prevent and control cavities by strengthening tooth enamel and dentine, stannous fluoride has been shown to make dental surfaces more resistant to bacterial acids.
- Antimicrobial: Stannous fluoride is also recognised for its antimicrobial properties, meaning that it can kill the bacteria found in plaque that cause gum disease and tooth decay.
- Anti-hypersensitivity: Stannous fluoride helps reduce teeth sensitivity resulting from hot, cold, acidic and sweet foods and beverages. It does this by forming a layer over open dentinal tubules (tiny channels in the dentine that lead directly to the sensitive pulp at the tooth's centre).
What’s the difference between stannous fluoride and sodium fluoride?
Sodium fluoride (NaF) is one of the three additives approved for use in community water fluoridation in the United States and is a type of fluoride also used in toothpastes. Like stannous fluoride, it helps fight cavities and strengthens enamel, but it doesn't address the antimicrobial and anti-hypersensitivity benefits in the same manner as stannous fluoride is able to.
What else can I do to prevent tooth decay?
There are multiple factors that cause cavities. Luckily, there are small steps you can take every day to reduce your risk of tooth decay. First, consider cutting down your intake of sugary foods and beverages. Bacteria on your teeth consume sugar and release acids that can eat away at your tooth enamel.
Good oral hygiene habits are also key to preventing tooth decay. Brushing for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste — such as one containing stannous fluoride — and daily flossing can help prevent cavities and other oral health concerns, such as gum disease. Make sure to visit your dentist and dental hygienist every six months for regular cleanings. Twice-yearly dental appointments give your dental professional the chance to diagnose oral health concerns early on and provide you with guidance on how to maintain optimal oral hygiene.