Which toothpaste has the most fluoride?
October 17, 2011 1:27 AM   Subscribe

Please help me understand the various fluoride percentages in toothpaste, and find the highest level of fluoride in over-the-counter paste.

I'm looking for the highest level of fluoride in over-the-counter toothpaste, and I don't understand how to compare them based on what's written on the package. For example, here's what's written on four different tubes:
- Crest Pro-Health: Stannous fluoride 0.454% (0.16 w/v fluoride ion)
- Crest: Sodium fluoride 0.243% (0.15% w/v fluoride ion)
- Sensodyne: Sodium fluoride (0.15% w/v fluoride ion)
- Colgate Pro Clinical: Sodium monofluorophosphate 1.14% (0.20% w/v fluoride ion)

Is one type of fluoride stronger than another? If I'm looking for the most fluoride, do I compare the percentages of (for example) stannous fluoride with sodium fluoride? Or do I compare the w/v fluoride ion percentages?

The last one I listed -- Colgate Pro Clinical -- was the highest fluoride content I could find (I think!). It's not for sale in stores anymore and not listed on their website. I think they've discontinued it and that the ones I see online are old stock. What is the highest level of fluoride I can find in toothpaste today? (I know about prescription toothpaste, gels, and rinses. I'm only looking for over-the-counter toothpaste.)
posted by Houstonian to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The % w/v fluoride ion is indeed the way to tell which has more. W/v is weight per volume. Stannous fluoride and sodium fluoride are salts which have different masses, since tin and sodium metal have different masses. When the salts are dissolved, they dissassociate into their component ions.
posted by gjc at 5:10 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

According to wikipedia, you might try buying your toothpaste in the UK.
posted by crunchland at 5:16 AM on October 17, 2011

I can't imagine that 1/100% difference is going to matter to your teeth at all. If you are looking to maximize the amount of fluoride you get, brushing more often with a cheap toothpaste will probably be more cost effective, and more effective for your teeth, than buying a premium toothpaste.
posted by COD at 5:55 AM on October 17, 2011

My guess is, as others and Wikipedia imply, that these pastes all have about what is considered the "limit" for US toothpastes. As you said, you can get higher ones with a prescription, but I'm guessing these limits are there to best prevent as many cases of dental fluorosis as can be. (No toothpaste manufacturer wants to be sued for that!)

Also, the limits in rinses seem to be different. ACT claims they have "the highest amount of fluoride available in rinse form without a prescription" and their rinses just have 0.02% w/v fluoride ion. My guess is that without all the sand, surfactants, &c. in toothpaste, the rinses can use much less sodium fluoride.
posted by Fortran at 6:17 AM on October 17, 2011

Best answer: Lately I'm a fan of Aim Clinical, which is 1.15% Sodium Fluoride. The regular AIM is Sodium Monofluorophosphate (0.8%).
Interestingly AIM as a brand doesn't have ADA approval seals on any of their products. I'm not really sure what's up with that.
posted by aimedwander at 6:46 AM on October 17, 2011

As crunchland said the floride content is probably going to be the best in the uk.

I had a dentist tell me( a friend not professionally) that anything under 1400ppm is a waste. Since finding this out I have been checking toothpaste, and within the same product(though different sizes) seen staggering differences in amounts. This is probably the only conspiracy I will get involved in, I have noticed more sensitive teeth for lower floride contents. The tooth paste manufacturers are out to get me!!!!!

I could probably ship you a taster if you are really bothered.
posted by adventureloop at 9:01 AM on October 17, 2011

Response by poster: How do you find the ppm with the w/v percentage?
posted by Houstonian at 9:24 AM on October 17, 2011

ACT fluoride rinse might be what you are looking for. I've used it on/off and found it worked well with preventing cavities than brushing multiple times, using different toothpastes, etc. You can also try brushing with Sensodyne brand toothpaste. I used it for sensitivity on my teeth, but its written on the box that it has "maximum strength with fluoride" and is good for cavity prevention.

Hope this helps. GL!
posted by melizabeth at 9:56 AM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: weight-per-unit-volume to ppm isn't simple because you need to know the density of the material. Thankfully, someone appears to have prepared a little chart for the common fluoride donors at the flouride therapy wikipedia page.
posted by introp at 10:15 AM on October 17, 2011

My impression is that the fluoride content in toothpaste is not itself going to be that important, especially if you're drinking fluoridated water1 in the first place. I had a friend who brushed with water only, due to some sort of allergic reaction to toothpaste, and according to him (relaying his dentist's advice) it was more important to brush at all (and on the recommended schedule) than it was to brush with toothpaste.

Here's what the CDC says.

If you've discussed your needs with your dentist, s/he may recommend an additional product or tool, such as a fluoride rinse or interdental brushing.

1 That said, the EPA is considering lowering the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water, due to toxicity hazards.
posted by dhartung at 11:21 AM on October 17, 2011

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