Gum Health

The Best Toothpaste is Fluoride Toothpaste…But Which Type of Fluoride?

When I think about what my dental patients really want to know, it’s tips and tricks on how to help prevent cavities. We all want to know what we can do at home that’s fast…and effective…to keep ourselves from spending time and money at the dentist. Truth?

Of course! Heck, I’m a dentist of 26 years and guess where I don’t want to spend time? In one of my partner’s dental chairs! As a dentist, I want everything my patients want. I want simple. I want predictable. Oh, and I want one more thing based on my experience. I want science to back it up. 

Sadly, what I’ve learned as a dentist with a behind the curtain look at many dental products is this: there are too many products that patients buy every single day, all over the world, that sound good and feel good. However, there are products that can do so much more. 

Hence, this blog. 

It’s high time patients and dental pros understand what makes one toothpaste save you time and money, while many others keep you coming back despite all the right things you’re doing at home.

So patient or dental pro, let’s talk about what really matters as you buy, or you recommend:

It’s NOT JUST about cavities:

Patients. I get it. You think dentistry and the cavity word pops in your mind. It makes sense. You may or may not know this, but dental cavities…almost half the world’s population has untreated cavities, so you’re spot on. It’s a big deal.

That said, dental pros…what do we know? There are other dental problems like plaque, gingivitis, tooth sensitivity, and tooth erosion that bring you into our offices and COST YOU time and money. ADD TO THAT…when left untreated…every one of those problems ends up costing you more time and more money. 

So, here’s what you need to know….

Fluoride is NOT JUST fluoride anymore

When you head to your favorite grocery store or pharmacy and hunt for your next tube of toothpaste, I’m guessing you do one of three things.

  1. You buy what you’ve always bought…habit.
  2. You look on the shelf and kinda-sorta remember a commercial; you see a name you recognize at eye level; you grab it and go.
  3. You ask the 16 year old kid who works there which one is best.

Sound about right? Is that bad? It isn’t. Unless you keep doing it after you read this. Friends we used to believe as long as a toothpaste had fluoride in it…you were good to go. However, there is so much more to be on the lookout for! 

Big picture we have two types of fluoride:

  • Sodium fluoride and
  • Stannous fluoride

Sodium Fluoride

Sodium fluoride is what we’ve had for years and years. When patients are worried about cavities, then it can be even more beneficial! HOWEVER….if you want to help yourself (patients), or help your patients (dental pros), then why in the world would you not want to help prevent:

  • Plaque bacteria
  • Gingivitis
  • Tooth Sensitivity and
  • Tooth Erosion

Stannous Fluoride

Stannous fluoride is the winner because it has TWO active components. The fluoride component…just like the classic sodium fluoride toothpastes helps with cavities. AND….where sodium fluoride, has sodium which doesn’t do anything but help the other component, fluoride, get to the mouth….Stannous actually helps with everything you read above. Stannous actually functions in our mouth. Winner!!

Even the same kind of fluorides ARE NOT created equally

SUPER important…

NOT ALL TOOTHPASTES that have Stannous Fluoride work in your mouth!!!

Have you ever watched a kid try to get the square peg in the round hole? Can he or she ever make it happen?

Well, it turns out Stannous Fluoride is tricky to work with. Without the perfect chemistry, it’s difficult for Stannous to go where it needs to go, to do the job! 

Surprised? I wish I was.

What should you buy or recommend?

Here’s the truth. There are TWO toothpastes I love…and I use…myself based on a much longer version of the science above:


….Both are amazing. Both have all the science you and I need. Each has a slightly different experience in your mouth. Each is uniquely formulated to deliver on the unique patients’ needs and both contain stannous fluoride.

Your short cut to fast and effective as a patient or pro


David Rice

David Rice

Founder of the nation’s largest student and new-dentist community, igniteDDS, David R. Rice, DDS, travels the world speaking, writing, and connecting today’s top young dentists with tomorrow’s most successful dental practices. He is the editorial director of DentistryIQ and leads a team-centered restorative and implant practice in East Amherst, New York. With 27 years of practice in the books, Dr. Rice is trained at the Pankey Institute, the Dawson Academy, Spear Education, and most prolifically at the school of hard knocks.