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What is Stannous Fluoride?

By M. Haskins
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Stannous fluoride, also known as tin fluoride and the trade name Fluoristan, is a colorless, solid chemical compound made up of both tin and fluoride. The term stannous is derived from the Latin word stannum, which means tin, and the chemical formula for this compound is SnF2, meaning it is a molecule made up of one atom of tin (Sn) and two atoms of fluoride (F). This type of fluoride is used as an ingredient in fluoridated toothpaste, some dental rinses, and dental gels. Stannous fluoride makes tooth enamel stronger, protects teeth from decay and cavities, and can also offer protection from gingivitis and reduce the sensitivity of teeth. Products containing stannous fluoride should not be ingested, and should generally not be used by children under the age of 12.

This fluroide works similar to other types of fluoride, like sodium fluoride and sodium monofluorophosphate which are also used in many toothpastes and oral care products, but is thought by some to offer more effective protection from tooth decay and other dental problems than other types of fluoride. One possible side effect of stannous fluoride is discoloration of the teeth. This staining is usually temporary, and the discoloration can often be reduced by brushing the teeth properly or can be easily removed by a dental professional.

Stannous fluoride is available in toothpastes, as well as in over-the-counter dental gels and rinses. Instructions for the use of stannous fluoride gel commonly specify that it is to be applied to the teeth once a day and left on for one minute before brushing. In the case of dental rinse containing this ingredient, it is often recommended to rinse with it for one minute before expelling it. Swallowing these products is to be avoided. To achieve the maximum benefit of these dental care products, it is best to avoid eating and drinking for about an hour after using them.

Using too much fluoride of any kind, including stannous fluoride, can result in changes in the color and appearance of tooth enamel. For this reason, it is important to follow the dosage instructions of any product containing fluoride. Serious side effects of stannous fluoride are uncommon, but allergic reactions can include rash, swelling, dizziness, and breathing problems. One should consult a medical professional immediately if experiencing such symptoms. Products containing this type of fluoride must be kept out of the reach of children.

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