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fluoride vs. fluoride free toothpaste – a brusher’s right to choose

hello team member
by connie gregson , friendly head of r+d at hello products

we get it: adulting can be hard, and this whole fluoride debate thing isn’t helping. so, we’ve assembled the research to help you decide which tube to call your main squeeze. if you’re feeling swishy-washy, the important thing to realize is that there isn’t a “wrong” choice. while most people grow up thinking their toothpaste must have fluoride to be effective, it turns out that it’s not absolutely essential for whitening or cleaning your teeth.

we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves though. first, let’s start with the basics.

what exactly is fluoride?

ok, let’s brush up: fluoride is a natural mineral that’s proven to be effective in preventing tooth decay and the development of cavities. it’s found naturally in some foods and some fresh water sources like lakes and rivers. even some ocean water contains fluoride (yeah, even fluoride loves the beach). because fluoride has been shown to be so effective at fighting cavities, today it’s added to virtually all municipal water supplies.

is fluoride in toothpaste good or bad?

ask your dentist, mom, or 7-year-old niece and they’ll tell you that preventing cavities is one of the primary reasons to maintain good dental hygiene. and when it comes to cavity prevention, fluoride is beneficial in two ways. the first benefit is enamel remineralization, which means that when fluoride is absorbed by the enamel on your teeth, it attracts minerals to your teeth as well, helping to keep them hard. tooth enamel is made up of hydroxyapatite. the second way fluoride helps out is by converting some of the hydroxyapatite to fluoroapatite, which is much more acid resistant and protects against cavities.

an overview by the center for disease control (CDC) authored by more than 25 dental professionals concluded that “all persons should receive frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride…” while going on to note that this fluoride exposure can come from drinking water sources and toothpaste. so yeah, fluoride is kind of a big deal.

why use fluoride free toothpaste if you’re an adult?

some people choose to go fluoride free as grown-ups. this is typically due to concerns over the volume of fluoride they are already exposed to. as we mentioned, most municipal water supply is treated with fluoride, and some feel that the quantities of the mineral they get from their water are enough for them. however, fluoride is most effective against cavities when applied directly to the teeth and may have minimal cavity-prevention effects when swallowed in drinking water. when used as directed, minimizing that amount that is swallowed, fluoride toothpaste is completely safe and effective.

at hello, we respect a brusher’s right to choose. so if fluoride is your bag, we’re down with that, and if you want to go fluoride free, we’re totally down with that too. we’re into oral care, and we’re not into being judgemental (or judgedental—see what we did there?). what we’re totally not into are cavities. that’s why our fluoride free products contain xylitol, a sweetener that’s derived from non-genetically engineered corn. in addition to it’s sweetness, xylitol also helps prevent cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to your pearly whites. yeah, it’s pretty sweet, but in a good way.

our tube cents

we weren’t kidding when we said we believe in a brushers right to choose. that’s why we offer our toothpastes and mouthwashes in fluoride and fluoride free varieties. if you’d like a personalized assessment of whether you and/or your fam are getting too much or too little fluoride, we’d recommend that you chat with your dentist or pediatrician.

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