Gauging Whether Or Not To Use A Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

If you're concerned about getting too much fluoride from toothpaste, water, and other sources, you're not alone -- and your concern isn't exactly misguided. While the arguments over whether fluoride is safe or toxic go back and forth without end, there are situations in which a fluoride product could give you too much exposure. Overall, some fluoride exposure is generally beneficial. But if you're looking for balance, it can be tempting to do something like switch to a fluoride-free toothpaste. Here are some issues you need to consider before making that switch.

Allergies and Other Health Issues

Briefly, if your doctor or dentist tells you that you have a health condition that requires you to reduce or eliminate fluoride from your diet, then switch that toothpaste. It is possible to have an actual allergy to fluoride, or you might have developed some other condition where you have to watch what you take in. These are fairly drastic situations, but they shouldn't be taken lightly. Children under two years of age also need to use fluoride-free toothpaste so that they don't accidentally eat the fluoride.

When Toothpaste Is Your Only Exposure

If you live in an area where the water isn't fluoridated, you don't take fluoride supplements, and you don't use a fluoride mouthwash, stick to fluoride toothpaste. It does help remineralize your teeth's enamel and prevent cavities. If you have no other health concerns, a fluoride toothpaste can only be beneficial.

When You Use Other Fluoridated Products

Using both a fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride mouthwash -- neither of which you ingest -- usually isn't a problem. There's also no apparent contraindication for using both a fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride supplement, though you can always speak to your dentist if you are still concerned. Supplements are prescription-only, and your fluoride intake would have to be monitored anyway.

One thing to watch out for is fluoridated water in processed foods. This is a tricky situation because you don't always know whether the food was processed in an area with a fluoridated water supply. In this case, modifying other fluoride usage (such as not using supplements), rather than dropping fluoride toothpaste, might be a better route because the real conflict here lies in how much systemic fluoride you're getting, not how much topical fluoride you're getting. Each case is individual, though, so talk to a local dentist to see what you should do if you think you're starting to get too much fluoride from food.

When You Have Fluoridated Water

Too much fluoride can result in fluorosis, which causes white spots and streaks. It generally affects children because of earlier systemic exposure, like drinking too much fluoridated water while their adult teeth were still forming. City water fluoride levels have actually been reduced because too many children were developing fluorosis.

Adults can still use a fluoride toothpaste, but children may have different needs. And if a child doesn't like to drink tap water, then that affects that child's need for a fluoride toothpaste.

Talk to a pediatric dentist to discuss whether the amount of fluoride in the water is enough for your child, or whether the child still needs a fluoride toothpaste. Try to speak to someone local, such as at, because that dentist will have a better idea of what sort of environmental fluoride exposure is typical in the area.