In short, the two substances’ chemical formula is different – Yes. But, is one better than the other – No. Both chemical compounds have the same enamel protective functions. Their chemical nature, however, does not allow them to mix the same way with different types of compounds. This is why some toothpaste manufacturers use Sodium Monofluorophosphate and other Sodium Fluoride.
Throughout the 1900s there was a focus on improving basic healthcare for modern society. Two important compounds that have come onto the market and played major roles are:
- Sodium Monofluorophosphate
- Sodium Fluoride
These two substances are still used today, especially in toothpaste.
What is Sodium Monofluorophosphate?
Although some methods of preventing tooth decay only came into use during the 1940s this substance already became known in the 1920s.
A shortened name for it is MFP and it has the chemical formula Na2PO3F. MFP is a salt and its characteristics include:
- Being colorless
- Without odor
- Soluble in water
This makes it ideal to use in toothpaste since it won’t cause bad aftertastes or smells as some chemicals compounds do.
What is Sodium Fluoride?
Here you’re talking about one of the most important substances concerning health. That’s if you talk to the WHO (World Health Organization). It’s on this body’s list of Essential Medicines that are items the organization views as vital for a basic health system.
So why is it so important? Sodium Fluoride (NaF) is powerful enough to prevent tooth decay thanks to its ability to help form fluorapatite. This substance occurs naturally in tooth enamel so NaF helps create protective barriers on teeth.
You obtain NaF during certain chemical reactions:
- To form other compounds such as MFP
- As a byproduct when superphosphate fertilizer is made
- When Hydrofluoric acid is neutralized
Which One is Better? (Or are They the Same?)
It’s not about the one being better than the other. What is important is context.
These two named substances are different chemical compounds but both contain fluoride. Their similar chemical makeup means they have the same function. However the substances they’re combined with toothpaste or other products—determine how they react. Since they react differently they’re obviously not exactly the same but that doesn’t make one better than the other.
In the toothpaste industry, certain ingredients can’t be mixed with sodium fluoride and others can’t be combined with Sodium Monofluorophosphate. Whatever the manufacturer is using in its products will determine which fluoride substance will be added.
What is the Use of Sodium Monofluorophosphate in Toothpastes?
You want your teeth to be protected against decay and for that, you need a barrier. Naturally, your teeth have fluorapatite in their enamel. The presence of fluoride in MFP means it can aid in maintaining this barrier.
When there’s MFP in toothpaste it assists in creating more of this fluorapatite. Why is the presence of fluoride so important? Because the food you eat will probably contain acid. Acid can easily break down compounds that can damage your teeth. But, with fluoride adding strength to enamel—this is an even better option than natural enamel without fluoride—your teeth have a better chance of resisting decay.
So don’t be confused by these big chemistry words anymore and keep on enjoying your delicious meals. As long as you use top of the line toothpaste that contains either NaF or MFP your teeth can stay in pristine condition.
Author: Peter Mayhew
Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.