Fluoride is a mineral that is widely used in oral care products, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss. Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities by strengthening the enamel and inhibiting the growth of bacteria. However, not all toothpastes have the same amount of fluoride, and some may contain higher levels than others. In this article, we will explore what high fluoride toothpaste is, why it is prescribed, what are its advantages and risks, and how to choose the best one for your oral health.
What is high fluoride toothpaste?
Toothpaste can come containing all different levels of fluoride, and some are completely fluoride-free. The regular amount is between 1,000 and 1,500 ppm (parts per million). These are usually in the form of sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate. Fluoride is measured in PPM because the amount you need for it to work effectively is very small.
Most adult toothpastes contain between 1,000 and 1,500 ppm of fluoride, and toothpastes for babies and children have on average 1,000 ppm of fluoride. However, your dentist can prescribe a toothpaste with a higher amount of fluoride that contains up to 5,000 ppm of fluoride. A prescription for toothpaste with high amounts of fluoride may be suitable for some people who have a higher risk of tooth decay or cavities, but it is not a replacement for a good dental hygiene routine and regular dental check-ups.
High-fluoride toothpaste is any toothpaste that contains over 1,500 ppm of fluoride. To get this type of toothpaste, you need a prescription from your dentist. This is because toothpaste with high fluoride is not suitable for everyone, so you need a dental assessment first.
Why is high fluoride toothpaste prescription only?
High fluoride toothpaste is prescription only because it can have some side effects if used incorrectly or excessively. Some of these side effects include:
- Dental fluorosis: This is a condition that affects the appearance of the teeth, causing white spots or streaks on the enamel. It occurs when children under the age of 7 ingest too much fluoride while their teeth are still developing. Dental fluorosis does not affect the function or health of the teeth, but it can affect their aesthetics and self-esteem.
- Skeletal fluorosis: This is a rare condition that affects the bones and joints, causing pain, stiffness, and deformity. It occurs when people consume too much fluoride over a long period of time (usually decades). Skeletal fluorosis can impair mobility and quality of life.
- Thyroid problems: Some studies have suggested that excessive fluoride intake can interfere with the function of the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism and growth. This can lead to hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, depression, and cold intolerance.
To avoid these side effects, high fluoride toothpaste should only be used under the supervision of a dentist who can monitor your oral health and fluoride intake. You should also follow the instructions on how to use it properly, such as:
- Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time
- Spit out the excess toothpaste after brushing
- Do not rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing
- Do not swallow the toothpaste
- Keep the toothpaste out of reach of children
What are the advantages of high fluoride toothpaste?
High fluoride toothpaste has some advantages for people who have a higher risk of tooth decay or cavities. Some of these advantages include:
- It strengthens the enamel by promoting the formation of fluorapatite, a type of enamel that is more resistant to acid and bacteria
- It reduces the acid production by plaque bacteria, which can erode the enamel and cause cavities
- It remineralizes the early stages of tooth decay by reversing the demineralization process
- It prevents new cavities from forming by creating a protective layer on the teeth
- It reduces tooth sensitivity by blocking the tubules in the dentin that transmit pain signals
High fluoride toothpaste can help to protect your teeth from decay and cavities if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Dry mouth (xerostomia), which reduces saliva production and increases plaque accumulation
- Gum recession or periodontal disease, which exposes the roots of the teeth that are more prone to decay
- Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or aligners, which can make it harder to clean the teeth and trap food and plaque
- Eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia, which can cause acid erosion of the teeth from vomiting or malnutrition
- Medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, or diuretics, which can cause dry mouth or affect the enamel
- Medical conditions, such as diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, or GERD, which can affect saliva production or cause acid reflux
- Frequent consumption of sugary or acidic foods and drinks, which can damage the enamel and feed the plaque bacteria
How to choose the best high fluoride toothpaste?
If you think you may benefit from using high fluoride toothpaste, you should consult your dentist first. They can assess your oral health and your risk of tooth decay and cavities. They can also prescribe the best type and brand of high fluoride toothpaste for your needs.
There are different types and brands of high fluoride toothpaste available in the market, such as:
- OTC high fluoride toothpaste: This is a type of toothpaste that contains 1,500 ppm of fluoride and does not require a prescription. It is suitable for people who have a moderate risk of tooth decay or cavities. Some examples of OTC high fluoride toothpaste are Colgate Cavity Protection, Crest Pro-Health Advanced, and Sensodyne Repair & Protect.
- Prescription high fluoride toothpaste: This is a type of toothpaste that contains 5,000 ppm of fluoride and requires a prescription. It is suitable for people who have a high risk of tooth decay or cavities. Some examples of prescription high fluoride toothpaste are PreviDent 5000 Booster Plus, Clinpro 5000, and SF 5000 Plus.
- High fluoride toothpaste with other ingredients: This is a type of toothpaste that contains high levels of fluoride along with other ingredients that can enhance its effectiveness or address other oral health issues. Some examples of high fluoride toothpaste with other ingredients are PreviDent 5000 Dry Mouth (with xylitol), Clinpro 5000 Anti-Cavity Toothpaste (with calcium phosphate), and Colgate Duraphat 5000 (with sodium lauryl sulfate).
When choosing the best high fluoride toothpaste for you, you should consider the following factors:
- The amount of fluoride: The higher the amount of fluoride, the more effective it is in preventing tooth decay and cavities. However, you should not use more than the recommended amount or frequency to avoid side effects.
- The type of fluoride: The most common types of fluoride in toothpaste are sodium fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate. Both are equally effective in protecting the teeth from decay and cavities. However, some people may prefer one over the other based on their taste or sensitivity.
- The flavor: The flavor of the toothpaste can affect your preference and compliance. Some people may like minty flavors, while others may prefer fruity or neutral flavors. You should choose a flavor that you enjoy and that does not irritate your mouth.
- The price: The price of the toothpaste can vary depending on the brand, the type, and the availability. Generally, prescription high fluoride toothpaste is more expensive than OTC high fluoride toothpaste. You should compare the prices and look for discounts or coupons to save money.
How does high fluoride toothpaste compare to other oral care products?
In this section, you can compare and contrast high fluoride toothpaste with other oral care products that contain fluoride or other ingredients that can help prevent tooth decay and cavities. For example, you can mention:
- Fluoride mouthwash: This is a liquid product that contains fluoride and other ingredients that can rinse away plaque and bacteria from the mouth. It can be used after brushing with toothpaste or as a supplement to brushing. However, it cannot replace brushing or flossing, and it may not be as effective as high fluoride toothpaste in delivering fluoride to the teeth.
- Fluoride varnish: This is a gel-like product that contains a high concentration of fluoride and is applied by a dentist or a dental hygienist to the teeth. It can provide a long-lasting protection against tooth decay and cavities, especially for children and people with special needs. However, it requires a professional application and may not be covered by insurance.
- Fluoride supplements: These are tablets, drops, or lozenges that contain fluoride and are taken orally. They are usually prescribed for children who live in areas where the water supply does not have enough fluoride. However, they should be used with caution and under the guidance of a dentist or a physician, as they can cause dental fluorosis or other side effects if taken in excess.
What are the alternatives to high fluoride toothpaste?
In this section, you can discuss some alternatives to high fluoride toothpaste for people who cannot or do not want to use it. For example, you can mention:
- Fluoride-free toothpaste: This is a type of toothpaste that does not contain any fluoride and relies on other ingredients such as baking soda, xylitol, charcoal, or herbal extracts to clean and protect the teeth. It may be suitable for people who are allergic or sensitive to fluoride, who have dental fluorosis, or who prefer natural or organic products. However, it may not be as effective as fluoride toothpaste in preventing tooth decay and cavities, and it may not be endorsed by dental associations.
- Natural remedies: These are methods or substances that are derived from plants, animals, minerals, or other sources that can help improve oral health. Some examples of natural remedies are oil pulling, green tea, turmeric, clove oil, or coconut oil. They may have some benefits such as reducing inflammation, fighting bacteria, or whitening teeth. However, they may not be scientifically proven, regulated, or standardized, and they may have some risks such as allergic reactions, interactions with medications, or toxicity.
- Dietary changes: These are modifications or adjustments to the food and drink intake that can affect oral health. Some examples of dietary changes are reducing sugar consumption, increasing water intake, eating more fruits and vegetables, or avoiding acidic foods and drinks. They may help to prevent tooth decay and cavities by reducing plaque formation, increasing saliva production, providing vitamins and minerals, or neutralizing acids. However, they may not be sufficient to protect the teeth from decay and cavities without proper oral hygiene practices.
Can high fluoride toothpaste cause sensitivity?
Sensitivity is a common dental problem that affects many people. It occurs when the dentin, the layer of the tooth under the enamel, becomes exposed and reacts to hot, cold, sweet, or sour stimuli. Sensitivity can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty in eating and drinking.
There are many possible causes of sensitivity, such as:
- Tooth decay or cavities
- Gum recession or periodontal disease
- Cracked or chipped teeth
- Worn or eroded enamel
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Acidic foods and drinks
- Whitening treatments or products
High fluoride toothpaste can help to reduce sensitivity by strengthening the enamel and blocking the tubules in the dentin that transmit pain signals. However, high fluoride toothpaste can also cause sensitivity in some cases, such as:
- Allergic reaction: Some people may be allergic or sensitive to fluoride or other ingredients in high fluoride toothpaste, such as flavorings, preservatives, or foaming agents. This can cause contact dermatitis, which is a type of skin inflammation that can affect the mouth and lips. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include swelling, itching, burning, sores, and peeling. Contact dermatitis can also make the teeth more sensitive to stimuli.
- Overuse: Some people may use too much high fluoride toothpaste or brush too hard or too often with it. This can damage the enamel and expose the dentin, leading to sensitivity. Overuse of high fluoride toothpaste can also increase the risk of dental fluorosis or skeletal fluorosis, which are conditions caused by excessive fluoride intake.
- Incompatibility: Some people may use high fluoride toothpaste with other oral care products that are not compatible with it. For example, some mouthwashes or whitening products may contain alcohol or peroxide, which can dry out or irritate the mouth and make the teeth more sensitive. Some natural remedies or dietary changes may also affect the pH balance of the mouth and make the teeth more prone to acid erosion.
To prevent or reduce sensitivity caused by high fluoride toothpaste, you should:
- Consult your dentist: Your dentist can diagnose the cause of your sensitivity and prescribe the best type and brand of high fluoride toothpaste for you. They can also advise you on how to use it correctly and safely.
- Use the right amount: You should use only a pea-sized amount of high fluoride toothpaste for each brushing session. This is enough to cover all your teeth with a thin layer of fluoride without causing any waste or excess.
- Brush gently: You should brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid scrubbing or pressing too hard on your teeth. You should also avoid brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods or drinks, as this can weaken the enamel and make it more sensitive.
- Avoid triggers: You should avoid or limit the consumption of foods and drinks that can trigger your sensitivity, such as hot, cold, sweet, or sour items. You should also avoid or quit smoking, as this can damage your gums and teeth and make them more sensitive.
- Use other products: You can use other oral care products that can help to relieve your sensitivity, such as desensitizing mouthwash, gel, or strips. These products contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride that can block the pain signals from reaching the nerves in your teeth. However, you should check with your dentist before using these products to make sure they are compatible with your high fluoride toothpaste.
High fluoride toothpaste can be a useful tool to prevent tooth decay and cavities and reduce sensitivity. However, it can also cause sensitivity in some cases if you are allergic or sensitive to it, if you use it too much or too hard, or if you use it with incompatible products. To avoid these problems, you should consult your dentist and follow their instructions on how to use high fluoride toothpaste safely and effectively.
High fluoride toothpaste is a type of toothpaste that contains higher levels of fluoride than regular toothpaste. It is prescribed by dentists for people who have a higher risk of tooth decay or cavities. It can help to strengthen the enamel, reduce plaque acid production, remineralize early decay, prevent new cavities, and reduce tooth sensitivity.
However, high fluoride toothpaste is not suitable for everyone and can have some side effects if used incorrectly or excessively. Some of these side effects include dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, and thyroid problems. To avoid these side effects, you should use high fluoride toothpaste only under the supervision of a dentist who can monitor your oral health and fluoride intake.
You should also follow the instructions on how to use it properly, such as using only a pea-sized amount, brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, spitting out the excess toothpaste after brushing, not rinsing your mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing, not swallowing the toothpaste, and keeping it out of reach of children.
There are different types and brands of high fluoride toothpaste available in the market, such as OTC high fluoride toothpaste (1,500 ppm), prescription high fluoride toothpaste (5,000 ppm), and high fluoride toothpaste with other ingredients. When choosing the best one for you, you should consider the amount of fluoride, the type of fluoride, the flavor, and the price.