Scott writes:

Dear TWiM Hosts,

My 8-year old frequently asks about ingredients he reads on labels. After a visit to the dentist, he received a tube of toothpaste with stannous fluoride as the active ingredient. He asked what stannous fluoride was, what it did, and if it was better than sodium fluoride. While I could answer that stannous fluoride is an ionic compound of fluorine and tin instead of the fluorine and sodium that was in his other toothpastes, I couldn’t tell him much more. After googling stannous fluoride, I found references from the ADA and toothpaste websites saying that stannous fluoride is more antimicrobial than the more typically used sodium fluoride. This conversation reminded me of the discussion TWiM had a few months ago about triclosan being removed from toothpaste, so I hope you might answer some questions we couldn’t find answers to, especially because oral microbiology is in Michael’s wheelhouse.

Does stannous fluoride have greater antimicrobial properties than other fluoride formulations? Does it have any other benefits that make it better? If it is any different, what is it about the tin ion that makes stannous fluoride more effective?

Thank you,

Scott, Madison, WI

P.S. A joke from my 8-year old. Why are bacteria so good at math? 

Because they multiply so fast!