And why don’t you make fluoride free toothpaste? This is definitely our most frequently asked question.
Back when Solid was in the research and development stages, I DID plan to make both fluoridated and un-fluoridated toothpaste.
It was late 2019, I had just launched our website and was yet to sell a single toothpaste tablet.
I got this email: “Hi I’m so confused on the fluoride thing, so we use both! What do you recommend? Thanks, Toothpaste Fence Sitter*.”
My reply: “Hi Toothpaste Fence Sitter, thanks for your message! I recommend fluoridated toothpaste tablets to be used twice a day. Fluoridated toothpaste used twice a day is recommended by the World Health Organisation, the NZ Ministry of Health and the NZ Dental Association. It works by literally making the outer layer of your teeth harder and more resistant to acid from food and plaque. There are a wealth of reputable studies on the benefits of topical fluoride in toothpaste, particularly for people who are prone to tooth decay. Hope this answers your Q!”
Toothpaste Fence Sitter’s reply: “Thank you for answering so fast. Could I ask why you sell the non fluoridated tablets?”
Great question, Toothpaste Fence Sitter.
*Not their real name (obviously).
Throughout my career as a dental therapist and dental hygienist, I had never recommended non-fluoridated toothpaste to anyone. Not even people like my Mum who hasn’t had a filling in 40 years. Why? Because the benefits of using a fluoride toothpaste far outweigh any risk. There are masses of peer reviewed studies that prove fluoride toothpaste lowers the risk of dental decay.
And what do highly respected New Zealand dentists say?
“If you don’t use a fluoride toothpaste you are going to dramatically increase the risk of getting tooth decay.”
…if fluoride-free toothpaste was sold in large quantities, it would “end up causing an epidemic of tooth decay in adults and children”.
I have worked with some amazing dentists in my time, and none ever recommended a fluoride free toothpaste to their patients. Still, a decent number of people do use fluoride free toothpaste. A recent NZ study found that 6-7% of all children and adults choose to use a non-fluoride toothpaste.
The reasons suggested by this study?
- people feel they are doing the right thing by choosing a more natural toothpaste
- it’s difficult to know whether a toothpaste contains fluoride or not.
The second reason is an interesting one. Local supermarket shelves now house a vast array of toothpaste choices, and unless you are dedicated to reading the fine print, it’s hard to tell which toothpastes are fluoridated, and which aren’t. Particularly many brands now sell some toothpastes that are fluoridated, and some that are not.
Fluoride free toothpastes often add alternative ingredients to prevent tooth decay.
One such ingredient is xylitol. I love xylitol, in fact I use it in all my formulations. This is because studies show that using a combination of xylitol and fluoride reduces oral bacteria levels more than fluoride alone. I wouldn’t rely on xylitol as the sole means of preventing decay however, as it doesn’t strengthen and remineralise teeth like fluoride does.
A new ingredient that does show some promise is hydroxyapatite (which is the same substance tooth enamel is made from). However, it’s still very new science, as well as being a very expensive ingredient that needs to be used at a high (10%) concentration to be effective. Make sure you find out the percentage before you rely on this ingredient!
We’re big fans of innovation in oral care, however most alternative ingredients I’ve seen in toothpaste simply do not have robust research to back up their claims. Luckily, since launching Solid, I have found that the number of people wanting scientifically backed AND sustainable oral care products is rapidly growing.
So. That’s why we don’t make fluoride free toothpaste.
And our answer to the should I use fluoride free toothpaste Q?
That is 100% your decision – we can only help through giving you the facts.
Quote sources and more reading on the topic: