Experts question fluoride-free toothpaste; study says ‘natural’ brands don’t prevent cavities

Credit: Christof Koepsel

Credit: Christof Koepsel

Toothpastes that don't contain fluoride may not prevent tooth decay and could increase risk of cavities, according to a new study published in the dental journal Gerodontology.

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Most toothpastes contain fluoride, but a rise in “natural” and alternative toothpaste brands spurred researchers to study the actual benefits.

"It's really important to debunk this idea that brushing your teeth stops decay. You need to have the fluoride," Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser to the British Dental Association and dentistry professor at the University of Birmingham, told Medical Daily.

Researchers from the University of Washington analyzed three separate studies involving about 800 children from the United States and Great Britain.

Researchers found that, when the studies were evaluated statistically as a whole, there was no significant reduction in cavities in those who brush and floss their teeth without fluoride.

"Despite a large body of scientific evidence, there are growing numbers of consumers who believe that all toothpastes are the same, and that as long as you clean your teeth effectively with a toothbrush or other device which cleans in-between the teeth, you can prevent decay," dentist J. Leslie Winston, oral care director for Crest-toothpaste maker Procter & Gamble, told Medical Daily.

Industry experts state that fluoride-free toothpaste accounts for less than 5 percent of the market -- but demand is growing, WCBS reported.

Tom's of Maine, one of the most popular fluoride-free toothpastes on the market,  is currently one of the best-selling toothpastes on

Paul Jessen, a brand manager at Tom's of Maine, told WCBS "the products that don't contain fluoride that we offer do not promise that benefit" of fighting cavities. He told CBS Tom's of Maine customers generally understand this.

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