Dental hygiene is an important part of personal health care.
Fluoride is a common ingredient in toothpastes (such as Oral B, My My, Close Up, Sensodyne, Colgate etc) and some believe it does more harm than good. Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical which prevents tooth decay and cavity occurrence. It also reverses the early stages of acid damage by remineralizing areas that have started to decay.
However, moderation is key to reaping the benefits of fluoride without experiencing a downside. People who receive too much fluoride often come down with dental fluorosis (discoloration of the teeth, could be spots or streaks). This is a however a cosmetic problem which has no effect on a person’s health.
There could also be fluoride poisoning especially for young ones who instinctively swallow it due to its sweet taste and pleasant aroma. Depending on the amount swallowed and frequency, this can cause chronic skeletal fluorosis which can weaken bones and cause arthritis.
So, if you must use fluoride containing toothpaste, stick to the recommended pea sized amount and do NOT swallow.
For children 6 years and younger, brushing should be supervised to minimize swallowing.
The majority of toothpastes manufactured locally in Nigeria have optimum fluoride content while only one toothpaste is a low-fluoride paediatric toothpaste – Umesi
A study conducted by Umesi D. C. and published in Nigerian Dental Journal (Vol 21, No 1 (2013)) found that some studies in Nigeria have shown a high prevalence of fluorosis and decided to study the availability and affordability of low-fluoride paediatric toothpastes in Nigeria. The study concluded that the majority of toothpastes manufactured locally in Nigeria have optimum fluoride content, that the non-fluoride toothpastes are herbal formulations while only one toothpaste is a low-fluoride paediatric toothpaste. However, according to the author, the cost of the paediatric toothpaste makes it unaffordable and unavailable to the average child in Nigeria.