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Do our teeth really need fluoride?

Do our teeth really need fluoride? This natural mineral, known for its anti-caries properties, is increasingly criticized. To follow the trend, many manufacturers are eliminating it from their toothpastes. Should we favor these products or continue to use fluoride pastes?

"There is no doubt:mineral or organic fluoride incorporated into toothpaste is an essential ally for healthy teeth “, assures Dr. Christophe Lequart, dental surgeon and spokesperson for the French Union for Oral Health (UFSBD).

It works at different levels. Fluoride has an antiseptic effect which reduces the number of cariogenic bacteria in the mouth. And "it also strengthens the dental enamel by combining with hydroxyapatite crystals, which makes the shell of the teeth more resistant to acid attacks, continues the expert. Recent scientific studies have furthermore proven that fluoride even manages to reverse the caries process by remineralizing damaged surfaces, at the first stage of caries."

Confusion at the origin of the controversy

The anti-fluoride messages that are spreading on the Internet call into question its safety. “Many result from confusing fluoride ions in toothpaste with fluoride gas which can have neurotoxic effects.” This argument was already used in the 1950s in the United States, when the authorities fluoridated tap water.

Others are based on the possible risks of dental or bone fluorosis in the event of an overdose. But "these are almost non-existent following the use of toothpaste", assures Dr. Lequart. There is a lot of dental fluorosis in countries like Tunisia where the water and the air are very laden with fluoride due to mining.

"The white spots visible today on the incisors and molars of almost 20% of French children have nothing to do with fluoride. They are thought to be generated by exposure to endocrine disruptors", emphasizes Dr Lequart. As for bone fluorosis, it comes from occupational exposure to fluoride in certain industrial sectors, and not from the use of toothpastes.

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Many toothpastes are now unsuitable

With the fashion of do it yourself , dental surgeons fear the resurgence of cavities. Parents think they are doing well by avoiding industrial products, but this new craze for home-made generally excludes the addition of fluoride. Worse:"the clays used to make home-made toothpaste are never completely purified, observes Dr. Lequart. They can therefore contain heavy metals that are harmful to health."

Similarly, all-organic enthusiasts do not always buy suitable toothpastes since the toothpastes sold in organic stores generally do not contain fluoride, which can cause problems for many children and adults. However, there are organic fluoride dental hygiene pastes, but these are only sold in pharmacies and in supermarkets and supermarkets.

Fluoridated toothpaste or not?

"The use of a fluoridated toothpaste is recommended for everyone, from an early age, indicates Dr. Lequart, because it has been shown that the most effective fluoride supply is in contact with the tooth itself". This is why we no longer prescribe fluoride drops to children, except in cases of very high caries risk.

The UFSBD recommends the use of a toothpaste with 1000 ppm – parts per million – of fluoride from 6 months to 6 years. It is therefore necessary to be vigilant because most brands only offer children's products containing only 500 ppm of fluoride. In toddlers, we simply tap the bristles of the brush on the tube to take a trace of toothpaste, but between one and two years, we can already deposit the equivalent of a grain of rice paste on the toothbrush. . And between 3 and 6 years old, the equivalent of a dab of toothpaste is welcome.

From the age of 6 and in adults, you can go to a higher dosage:a toothpaste with 1450 ppm of fluoride applied to the entire surface of the bristles of the brush.

People over the age of 15 at high caries risk (wearing orthodontic appliances, dry mouth, etc.) can opt for toothpastes with an even higher fluoride dose:up to 5000 ppm. Being considered as medicines, these are only sold in pharmacies, on the advice of the doctor or dentist.

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