Greater Boston Dental and Implant Center

Stannous Fluoride vs. Sodium Fluoride: Yes, there is a difference.

Stannous Fluoride vs. Sodium Fluoride: Yes, there is a difference. In summary:
Sodium Fluoride, by far the most common fluoride in toothpastes, prevents cavities only.
Stannous Fluoride, in addition to cavity prevention, fights gum disease (its antimicrobial to the bacteria which form the plaque on teeth) and tooth sensitivity. The negative is that with long term use, it can stain teeth in certain patients. Please note that just brushing with a stannous fluoride toothpaste will not treat (and certainly not cure) gum disease. It will delay the initial onset of gum disease, as well as delay its recurrence in treated patients.

Thus its effective when used in conjunction with clinical care supervised by a dentist. Don’t believe carefully worded ads which imply that it will stop bleeding gums, and thus cure gum disease.

Crest Pro Health and Colgate Total are major brands which contain stannous fluoride, but expect to pay more. Due to its chemical instability, manufacturing a stannous fluoride toothpaste is more involved.

And please, consider Greater Boston Dental as your new dental office, we love new patients! See us at, or call (617) 924-7301. Email is [email protected]

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Why “morning mouth”? Why not “afternoon mouth”?

Our golden rule for oral disease prevention and bad breath (halitosis) prevention: Brush and floss at bedtime, and no snacks afterwards.  The last thing that should touch your teeth at night is fluoride. The idea behind this is simple:  Bacteria are very hungry, let’s starve them.

Please consider:  Why does everyone have “morning mouth”, that is, bad breath,  after 8 hours of sleeping? Why not “afternoon mouth”, at 5 PM, after 8 hours of eating and drinking?

At bedtime,  your mouth, in a sense, goes to sleep as well, and the normal bacteria in your mouth grow undisturbed. A major factor is reduced saliva production, which normally “washes”  bacteria off oral surfaces; eating and drinking, to an extent, “scrub” as well. Note that reduced saliva at night is a normal part of the body’s daily rhythm (footnote 1), and can unfortunately be exacerbated by the side effects of many medications.

Thus, the bad breath of “morning mouth” is normal. However, it can be reduced significantly by good brushing and flossing.  Mouth bacteria happily double their numbers every 3 hours, so removing food debris,  their energy source,  can limit their growth considerably. This simple habit will markedly reduce your lifetime incidence of oral disease and make your partner happy as well.


1. “The biological significance of decreased saliva during sleep is unknown and it is unclear how the oral cavity compensates for this period of relative dryness. The amount of saliva produced is greatest during the waking hours of the day and diminishes dramatically during sleep and may represent another process in the human body that displays a circadian rhythmicity.”

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Tooth decay and gum disease prevalence: Both are alive and well

Excluding the common cold, tooth decay and gum disease are by far the most common diseases in mankind.  They are not completely preventable. Tooth decay and gum disease are virtually guaranteed in every individual – good oral hygiene and professional care can only limit the onset and degree of effect.  Thus, a few cavities by age 21 and gum disease onset by age 55 is inevitable. With no care, the picture changes drastically: A mouthful of cavities by 21 and gum disease onset at 30. Left untreated, over the course of 20 years gum disease “eats away” the bony support around the teeth, resulting in major tooth loss by 55.

Prevention begins essentially at birth, and is a constant lifetime battle. The golden rules are simple, the ones you’ve heard forever: Brush with a fluoride toothpaste  – fluoride is in every toothpaste preparation – floss, and see your dentist at least every 6 months. (Note no fluoride for your baby until they know to not swallow it; just brush with water for the mechanical effect). Other than a toothbrush and floss, no other gadgets have ever been proven effective. Fluoride is the only ingredient which is proven effective in preventing tooth decay.

Fortunately, both diseases are easily treated with modern technology, virtually guaranteeing the retention of almost all teeth for a lifetime. Early diagnosis is a must, and this means seeing your dentist every 6 months! Once the majority of a tooth has decayed, it is forever weakened; and once gum disease eats away the bone surrounding a tooth, it can never be restored.

Please consider Greater Boston Dental in Watertown, MA  as your new dentist, we love new patients! Also feel free to call us at (617) 924-7301 with any questions. Our website:; email [email protected]


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