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Natural toothpaste: Friend or fad?

  If you’re weighing the pros and cons of switching from a flouride or traditional toothpaste to a ‘natural’ one, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. We’re here to help you sort...


If you’re weighing the pros and cons of switching from a flouride or traditional toothpaste to a ‘natural’ one, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. We’re here to help you sort through the mess and make a decision that’s right for you.

Your oral health history

Start by looking at your oral health history. If you are one of the unlucky people who is prone to cavities, a daily dose of fluoride toothpaste is definitely recommended. Why? Because fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and resist the acid breakdown that leads to tooth decay. But if your teeth happen to be naturally resistant (i.e., high in fluoride content), and you are worried about the possible harmful effects fluoride can have on your body, a natural toothpaste may be the way to go for your own peace of mind.


Preventing tooth decay & removing plaque

Are natural toothpastes as effective in preventing tooth decay? The simple answer is no. Fluoride helps prevent demineralization, the first step to tooth decay. So using a fluoride toothpaste is a good way to stop the process before it has begun.

If you’ve had very few cavities throughout your life, and are bent on going the natural route, make sure you’re drinking lots of good ol’ tap water! With the right amount of fluoride in your water (no more than 0.7 mg/l), you can rest assured that staying hydrated will help prevent tooth decay. (If you prefer your water in a bottle, keep in mind that many bottled brands have gone fluoride-free, so read the label next time you grab one off the shelf.)

When it comes to plaque removal, consider this: the simple act of brushing is enough to remove the plaque from your teeth. With that in mind, the question may come down to which toothpaste makes your breath smell the freshest, or whether or not you’re concerned about the effects fluoride might have on your health.


Is fluoride really harmful?

As long as you aren’t swallowing large amounts of toothpaste or mouthwash, you likely don’t need to worry about the ill effects of fluoride. Like many other minerals (e.g., iron, sodium, potassium), too much of it in your diet isn’t a good thingbut a reasonable amount is actually beneficial. If, however, you’d like err on the side of caution, simply use a pea-sized amount rather than covering the head of your toothbrush from end-to-end.

When it comes to babies and small children, there’s no question: Fluoride is not recommended until age 3, and only in pea-sized amounts from age 3 to 6, due to the possibility of developing dental fluorosis, or white spots on the teeth.

Pro tip! While the effects of fluorosis appear in adulthood, this condition is a result of ingesting too much fluoride while your permanent teeth are in the process of developing (i.e., during childhood).


Going the natural route without spending the dough

While more and more natural (and expensive!) toothpaste options are proliferating the market, don’t forget that you might already have what you need at home. Why not try making your own with baking soda or coconut oil? We’d recommend timing this out a few weeks before a scheduled dentist appointment. That way, you can see if your dental team makes note of any concerning changes to your teeth.

In the end, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of natural versus fluoride toothpastes. It can be difficult to get a straight answer online, so if you really aren’t sure, speak with your dental team about any questions or concerns you might have.




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