Medically Reviewed by:
Dr Gemma Wheeler BDS (Hons) Associate Dentist (GDC: 259369)
Page last reviewed: 17/04/2019 Next review due: 17/04/2022
Ask someone the ingredients in an average toothpaste and the single answer you will hear is fluoride. It’s also a term regularly mentioned when we visit the dentist or see adverts for various oral care products. But do we actually need fluoride and how much?
Well, fluoride is added to toothpaste as it can help to chemically strengthen the teeth, preventing tooth decay, which is caused by acid from bacteria in dental plaque. The fluoride will help demineralise and remineralise, helping to protect the teeth, however, it should be noted that too much can cause dental fluorosis or skeletal fluorosis.
Beyond toothpaste, you can also expect to find it used in most mouth wash products, as well as some brands of floss.
Why Is Fluoride Added To Water?
As the title suggests, fluoride is naturally found in water, however with various amounts in there, the fluoride levels are normally topped up through a process called fluoridation. It is a clever concept brought on by water authorities to help reduce tooth decay in a low-cost form, however, there is a little bit of negativity surrounding the action of adding fluoride, due to potential effects on health.
How Much Fluoride Should I Be Having?
The answer is dependent on a number of factors, such as your age and your gender, while it is also affected by where you live in the world as different areas have different levels of fluoride in the water supply.
The average adult should be having between 3-4 milligrams per day, but once again, this isn’t an exact amount and should be considered in relation to your age and gender (men should have more, children should have less).
This figure, however, is based on internal consumption, whereas you won’t be consuming your toothpaste (never swallow toothpaste!) therefore this must all be considered in relation to your diet and you should never exceed the recommended dosage.
The easiest way to ensure your mouth is getting enough is by brushing your teeth twice per day using a toothpaste which is fluoridated. You should also make sure to brush your teeth for long enough, two minutes.
What About Fluoride Free Toothpastes?
We would generally recommend avoiding these, as they will not help with the prevention of tooth decay. They may help with teeth whitening or gaining a fresher mouth, but the main reason we all clean our teeth is to prevent tooth decay. With our activated charcoal teeth whitening powder we recommend brushing it on your teeth to help remove stains, however, we also recommend brushing your teeth as well with normal toothpaste, as this isn’t a substitute. It is a natural addition to your oral care.