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Fluoride toothpaste is simply any toothpaste that contains fluoride as an active ingredient. Toothpaste, also referred to as a dentifrice, is used to clean teeth and remove plaque to prevent buildup, which can lead to cavities. When fluoride is included in toothpaste, it has been shown to strengthen teeth and better protect against plaque buildup and cavities. Fluoride became a common addition to toothpaste in the 1950s.
Fortunately, fluoride toothpaste is the most common toothpaste available. Almost all toothpaste sold in stores includes fluoride as one of its active ingredients. Other ingredients such as baking soda or peroxide may be included for whitening purposes, and toothpaste also generally includes gentle abrasive ingredients to polish the teeth and help to remove plaque.
Some people became concerned about the potential dangers of fluoride toothpaste after warnings were printed on the tubes. These generally specify that if more than the amount used for brushing is swallowed, that one should contact a poison control center. In addition, the warnings state that children should only use a very small amount, and should be supervised while brushing until they are capable of spitting out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
Fluoride can be harmful if swallowed, so it is important to supervise children to make sure they are using an appropriate pea-sized amount of toothpaste; children tend to use way too much, particularly when using a toothpaste with a kid-friendly flavor, such as bubblegum. It is typically difficult for a child to ingest a large amount of toothpaste, however, because it would cause vomiting. When used as intended, fluoride toothpaste is generally considered to be safe and effective at cleaning teeth and preventing tooth decay. Fluoride toothpaste alone is not enough to care for the teeth, however.
The teeth should be brushed at least two times a day with a soft-bristled brush, three times if possible. The teeth should be brushed in a circular motion, both front and back and up along the gumline. The mouth should be rinsed with water after every meal. It is also important to floss daily, to remove plaque that builds up between teeth and along the gumline. Some people choose to use mouthwash and tongue scrapers as well to get a particularly clean-feeling mouth. In addition, it is important to visit a dentist every six months for a full cleaning and a check for cavities. When used as part of a complete program of oral hygiene care, fluoride toothpaste is an excellent way to keep the teeth healthy and clean.