Do you need a higher fluoride toothpaste?

Fluoride is a fantastic ingredient for preventing cavities, and it’s found in most toothpaste and in all Georgia tap water. Toothpaste that is higher in fluoride, such as Prevident or Clinpro, is available by prescription or from a dentist. Read on to find out if a high fluoride toothpaste is for you.

Fluoride and cavities

There are actually many types of cavities that patients can get. The most common type by far form between teeth at the point when one tooth touches its neighbor, in what we call the contact area. Cavities can also form in the grooves of teeth or on the root of teeth if the roots become exposed.

Fluoride helps the most to prevent the cavities that form in between teeth. If these are the cavities that you tend to develop and you’ve had a lot of them in the past, or have a lot of them now, a higher fluoride toothpaste can help. It can keep the small cavities you have from getting bigger, and can keep you from developing new ones.

How do you know if these are the cavities that you have? The best way to find it is to get x-rays and an exam from your dentist. A type of x-ray called a bitewing shows the contacts between teeth and whether they have cavities, or whether they have had fillings in the past.

What other conditions make a high fluoride toothpaste a good idea?

Higher fluoride can also help for patients with the following conditions:

  • Braces – Patients with braces have a harder time keeping their tooth contacts clean, and are also at risk of developing white spot lesions around where brackets were placed. Higher fluoride toothpaste can help to prevent these white spots.
White spot lesions after braces
Image from White Spot Lesions: Prevention and Treatment. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2010;138:690-6
0889-5406. Link to article.
  • Dry mouth – Saliva helps to irrigate and wash your teeth. Patients who have dry mouth due to age or medications have higher risk for cavities and can benefit from more fluoride
  • Caries-causing diet – Of course, our recommendation would first be that patients quit soda, candy, and other sticky or carbohydrate-heavy snacks and drinks. But in the absence of these changes a higher fluoride toothpaste can help to reduce risk of cavities.

If fluoride prevents cavities, is more better?

We only recommend using a high fluoride toothpaste at night, and we don’t recommend it for everyone. That’s because like most substances you put in your body, there is a sweet spot where you get the most benefit, and if you go above a certain level there can be side effects. For fluoride, the most noticeable side effect is spotting and staining on teeth.

High fluoride toothpaste is also more expensive than over the counter toothpaste, so for patients who don’t need it, there’s no reason to pay extra. For patients who do, however, even one filling prevented more than pays for the cost of the toothpaste.

Do you think you may have a cavity or that you may need a prescription toothpaste? Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!

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