Sodium Fluoride vs. Stannous Fluoride: Which is Best for Me?

Sodium Fluoride vs. Stannous Fluoride: Which is best for me?

Sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride are the two major active ingredients in modern toothpastes, with sodium fluoride by far the most common.  Both prevent cavities. Stannous fluoride’s advantage is its  antimicrobial effect versus the bacteria which cause gum disease – but note that any toothpaste will remove gum disease bacteria mechanically through good brushing and flossing.  The negative of stannous fluoride is tooth staining, which can be difficult or impossible to remove.

For most patients, sodium fluoride is fine, as just brushing and flossing will remove gum disease causing plaque mechanically, and a rinse like Listerine can provide an antimicrobial effect – all with no risk of staining. Stannous fluoride can be appropriate for patients who don’t mind staining and desire to “throw everything in the closet” against gum disease, perhaps due to early onset, family history, dry mouth, or immunocompromise due to head and neck radiation. In the end, everyone’s oral chemistry varies, and stannous fluoride could well be an effective adjunct to brushing, flossing and regular dental cleanings in many patients. But its not absolutely necessary.

The type of fluoride in any toothpaste is clearly listed on the label. (Sodium monofluorophosphate is similar in efficacy to sodium fluoride and can be considered  equivalent).  Crest Pro Health, Colgate Total, and Parodontax are major stannous fluoride brands, and generally more expensive.

And the carefully worded ads which imply that just brushing with a stannous fluoride toothpaste cures gum disease? Don’t believe them. The good news: Modern dentistry easily treats gum disease, but early diagnosis is critical. Please see your dentist.

Contact us  at (617) 924-7301 or [email protected] with any questions on this article,  and see our website at Greater Boston Dental is a group practice of four dentists and four hygienists in Watertown, MA,  designed to serve all your dental needs in one easy to navigate location. Please call us with any dental needs – we would love to give you reasonable, conservative, cost effective advice as your new trusted dental office.

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