Fact Checked

What's The Difference Between Stannous Fluoride and Sodium Fluoride?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

November 01, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

Fluoride has been used to preserve dental health since its introduction in the mid-1940s. Since then, fluoride is widely included in modern dental care products such as toothpaste and mouth rinses to prevent tooth decay and dental caries. Abundant scientific research shows that fluoride has measurable benefits in reducing tooth decay. But there are several types of fluoride, causing some to wonder what the difference is between stannous fluoride and sodium fluoride.

This piece will examine how stannous and sodium fluoride treatment works and its benefits to your dental health. The distinctions between sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride will be discussed as well. Finally, we'll talk about which fluoride is the best to utilize for oral health.

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Why use fluoride at all?

In dental hygiene products, fluoride refers to compounds that include Fluorine in an anionic state. Sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride are two of these chemicals.

The short answer is that there is solid proof that fluoride treatment strengthens teeth and helps to prevent dental caries. It accomplishes this by increasing the mineralization of the tooth enamel, which forms the top layer of your teeth to prevent tooth decay.

You're undoubtedly aware of the idea that cavities and tooth decay are caused by loss of tooth enamel. Knowing this, it is critical to maintain the strength of the tooth enamel and prevent oral bacteria from entering it and affecting the delicate interiors of the teeth resulting in tooth decay.

Tooth enamel is a durable material that protects teeth from mechanical and chemical wear and tear caused by eating and drinking. Its primary component is a kind of mineral known as hydroxyapatite. When exposed to fluoride, however, tooth enamel remineralizes with fluorapatite. This mineral possesses antimicrobial and bacteriostatic properties and is more resistant to bacterial acids and dental caries.

Sodium fluoride vs. stannous fluoride

Inorganic compounds include sodium fluoride and stannous fluoride. However, whereas sodium fluoride is one chemical formula, stannous fluoride substitutes the sodium ion with a tin ion.

Both formulations may improve tooth enamel and combat dental caries, although stannous fluoride is more resistant to bacterial acids. It also possesses other antibacterial properties. This implies it can eliminate the germs on the tooth surface that cause tooth decay in the first place.

Furthermore, stannous fluoride lowers tooth hypersensitivity. This is why it is frequently given to individuals sensitive to hot, sweet, cold, or acidic meals.

What is the purpose of sodium fluoride?

This is a sort of medication used on the teeth. To prevent tooth decay, sodium fluoride paste is utilized. It also aids in the reduction of tooth sensitivity. Unless otherwise directed by your dentist, follow these steps to use it properly: Apply a thin ribbon of sodium fluoride toothpaste to your toothbrush. Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice daily for two minutes, preferably before bed and after breakfast. Adults should spit out the paste after usage and not eat, drink, or rinse for 30 minutes for optimal effects. Make sure to never consume fluoride toothpaste, even in small amounts.

What exactly is stannous fluoride?

The American Dental Association (ADA) has acknowledged stannous fluoride toothpaste as an effective agent in treating tooth decay as a frequent active component in toothpaste. The distinction between stannous fluoride and other fluoride kinds is that it provides additional advantages over most toothpaste such as:


While other fluoride treatments have been found to aid in preventing and treating dental caries by strengthening tooth enamel and dentin, stannous fluoride has made dental surfaces even more resistant to bacterial acids.

Antimicrobial properties

Stannous fluoride toothpaste is also known for its antimicrobial capabilities, which help destroy the germs in plaque that cause bleeding gums, gum disease, and tooth decay.


Stannous fluoride aids in the reduction of tooth sensitivity caused by hot, cold, acidic, and sweet foods and beverages. It accomplishes this by creating a protective layer over open dentinal tubules (tiny dentinal channels that feed directly to the sensitive pulp at the tooth's core).

Adverse effects of stannous fluoride

The main issue with stannous fluoride is that it leads to tooth staining. It also has an unpleasant taste and leaves a gritty aftertaste in your mouth. However, newer formulations and active ingredients have been less prone to staining since 2006.

There is still a small danger of discoloration if you undergo stannous fluoride treatment from your dentist. This is because fluoride concentrations in-office treatments are higher.

There appear to be more significant problems with other fluoride types than stannous fluoride variants.

Stannous fluoride is not considered a carcinogen in humans. However, regardless of the type of toothpaste used, it is always a good idea to observe small children, ensuring they do not ingest it. Suppose a young child consumes a lot of fluoride toothpaste. In that case, you will want to call a dental professional or poison control center as soon as possible.

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How does stannous fluoride toothpaste compare to sodium fluoride toothpaste?

Fluoride toothpaste generally aims to clean your teeth and prevent tooth decay. Such advantages may be obtained from any toothpaste, whether it includes stannous fluoride or not. However, stannous fluoride toothpaste is advised if you wish to gain additional dental health benefits.

Stannous fluoride toothpaste is available at most grocery shops, pharmacies, and online.

Should I rinse my mouth with stannous fluoride?

Daily stannous fluoride mouth rinse is commonly taken in the morning after brushing your teeth for more oral health protection and fresher breath.

While this form of mouthwash can be used with stannous fluoride-containing toothpaste, not everyone has to use this type of mouth rinse if they brush their teeth twice a day with stannous fluoride toothpaste.

Suppose you continue to have dental caries, gingivitis, and bad breath despite other oral health treatments. In that case, your dentist may advise you to use mouthwash.

Stannous fluoride mouthwash is available over the counter at most grocery shops, pharmacies, and online just as readily as stannous fluoride toothpaste.

What more can I do to keep my teeth healthy?

Various problems can cause tooth decay, gingival inflammation, and plaque formation. Fortunately, there are simple activities you may do daily to lower your risk of tooth decay. First, consider reducing your consumption of sugary foods and beverages. Bacteria on your teeth devour sugar and produce acids that erode tooth enamel.

Oral hygiene is essential in avoiding tooth decay. Brushing twice a day for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste, such as one containing stannous fluoride, and flossing daily can help prevent cavities and plaque formation and other oral health issues, such as gum disease. Maintain regular cleanings by seeing your dental professional every six months. Twice-yearly dental checkups allow your dentistry expert to detect oral health issues early on and advise you on maintaining optimal oral hygiene to prevent dental caries.

Best practices for oral health

Stannous fluoride is only a minor component of your total oral health. The following best practices will help you improve your dental health:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day, at the very least.
  • Brush your teeth in soft, little circles around the gum lines rather than directly across the teeth.
  • Floss at least once a day (usually before brushing).
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups.
  • Consume fruit juice, soda, and other sugary drinks in moderation.
  • Eat fruits high in acid sparingly.
  • Reduce your intake of starches. They adhere to tooth surfaces and promote tartar formation leading to the risk of cavities.

When should you see a doctor?

You should see your dentist at least once every six months for periodic cleanings and checkups to prevent tooth decay. However, if you detect something out of the ordinary with your teeth, you don't have to wait until your six-month visit. If you see any of the following, please make an appointment if you have:

  • Gums that bleed, especially after brushing and flossing
  • Teeth or gums that hurt
  • Heightened tooth sensitivity or discomfort when eating or drinking
  • Loose teeth
  • Fractured or chipped teeth
  • Areas of discoloration on your teeth, tongue, or gums

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a cost difference between sodium fluoride toothpaste and stannous fluoride toothpaste?

The cost difference is minimal, so the best choice is to use sodium fluoride or a stannous fluoride dentifrice, depending entirely on your health and taste needs.

Which type of fluoride is better for tooth enamel?

While sodium fluoride works well, stannous fluoride also replaces sodium with other fluoride ions. While both formulas can strengthen tooth enamel and also fight dental caries, stannous fluoride is better at resisting bacterial acids.

Can someone have allergic reactions to fluoride?

Fluoride allergies are infrequent, yet they can be fatal. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that aids in tooth decay prevention. Fluoride allergies can present in various ways, depending on whether the person has a moderate or severe reaction.

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The American Dental Association (ADA) accepts stannous fluoride as a helpful element in toothpaste. Its qualities outperform sodium fluoride, and it is entirely safe to use. However, your specific needs may differ. Speaking with a skilled dental practitioner is the best way to identify which toothpaste is best for you.

Stannous fluoride, the most common type, may be found in major brands of over-the-counter toothpaste and mouthwash. For the majority of people, the advantages of fluoride exceed the hazards.

Before changing your toothpaste, consult your dentist about which products are best for your specific oral health requirements.