These days, many people are concerned about the potential negative effects of health products they use. This has been driving people to consider alternatives like natural mouthwashes and toothpastes. But are these alternatives effective at reducing cavities and promoting oral health? A new study says they’re not, but that may not be the last word on the question.
Study: Fluoride-Free Toothpaste Doesn’t Reduce Cavities
For this study, researchers conducted a systematic review of randomized trials looking at the effectiveness of brushing without fluoride toothpaste. Researchers describe this as a “confounding” factor, because we know that fluoride exposure to teeth does cause a reduction in cavities. Researchers looked for randomized clinical studies that involved brushing without fluoride. They found that good oral care without fluoride did provide a small reduction in cavities, but it wasn’t statistically significant. In other words, the difference wasn’t large enough to be distinguished from random chance.
Why the Study Might Not Have the Answer
If you look at news outlets, there’s a fair amount of coverage for this story, promoting the fact that fluoride-free toothpastes don’t reduce cavities. However, it’s important to note that this study may not actually give us good grounds to say that, because it does have limitations.
The biggest limitation of the study is that it is relatively small. The size of a study determines the size of an effect that it can detect. The larger the study, the smaller the effect it can detect. This study compiled the populations of three studies, but it still only had 743 people. That’s not a large sample size for answering a question of this sensitivity.
Remember: flossing itself was recently shown to have no value under similar circumstances. Back then, we had the American Dental Association (ADA) and others pointing out the problems with the study, and why we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. The situation is similar here, so let’s take the same attitude to this study.
Don’t Freak Out about Fluoride
On the other hand, it’s important to note that the reason why this study matters is that so many people have recently become concerned about the impact of fluoride on their health. But the panic is overblown. Yes, high levels of fluoride can be toxic. But with fluoride, as with everything, the dose makes the poison.
Fluoridated water like we have here in Summerlin provides a healthy level of fluoride exposure. It helps remineralize your teeth throughout the day, but isn’t toxic. Fluoride toothpaste is healthy for your teeth, but not necessarily for your body: you shouldn’t swallow it. And don’t let children brush with fluoride toothpaste until you can count on them to not swallow it.
Properly used, fluoride toothpaste is safe and much more effective at preventing cavities, whether or not fluoride-free toothpastes may also provide some level of protection.
Dr. Polley Recommends the Best Toothpastes
Last year, Summerlin dentist Dr. James Polley gave us a breakdown on the factors that you should consider in choosing the best toothpaste. He also gave us his two top recommendations. He recommends Sensodyne ProNamel for people with low decay risk. For people with high decay risk, he recommends CariFree CTX4.
Are you looking for a dentist in Summerlin to help protect your oral health? Please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment at the office of Dr. Polley in Summerlin.