The fluoride that has been linked to increased dental health problems has been found to have a strong antibacterial effect, and the government is moving to ban it from public drinking water.
The government says the stannously-fluoride is used in toothpastes, toothpasts, mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrush, toothbrushes and other products, and it can be added to bottled water to help it work.
The move comes as the ABC reported that people were switching to a variety of alternative products including toothpaste made from algae, which contain no fluoride, and toothpaste that does not contain fluoride.
Health Minister Peter Dutton has said it is too early to determine if the change is having an effect on dental health, and has said the Government will work with industry to develop solutions.
The ABC’s Dan Leeson reported that the Government’s decision to ban stannulphate comes after months of research, which showed that the product was safe.
“This is a product that has an antibacterial potential, and I would say it is not likely to cause dental disease,” Mr Dutton said.
“I think people would be surprised to know that stannophate is a very effective antibacterial agent and it works on bacteria.”
But the Government is also pushing back on the claim that it is a more effective antibacterant.
“There is no evidence that this product is significantly more effective than any other type of toothpaste,” he said.
Health spokesman Peter Dandridge said the new product is unlikely to pose a health risk because it is already available in some other forms.
“We are not going to go out and buy a bottle of this toothpaste and then go and buy another bottle of toothpastons and other types of products because there is already a product out there that is effective,” he told ABC Radio.
The Government’s ban is being welcomed by the American dental association.
The American Dental Association says the government’s move to ban the product is a positive step in the fight against cavities.
“As we have seen in recent years, a variety in the use of stannolate products has been associated with increased risk of cavities, including some of the most popular mouthwash products,” said Dr David Tackett, AMA vice president of dental care.
“Stannolates are widely used in dentistry and can be used to promote oral hygiene, including cleaning and moisturising.”
Mr Dandridges office said the change was not an emergency measure, but the Government was committed to ensuring the public’s dental health was not compromised.
“The use of the product will be subject to regular monitoring and we will ensure the products are safe and compliant,” he wrote in a statement.
“It is our expectation that the safety and efficacy of stanolate will continue to be assessed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.”
The AMA said the decision to end the ban was a significant step forward, but it would still be difficult to get the product onto the shelves.
Dr Tacketts said the AMA was still concerned about the long-term safety of the products.
“Our concern is that this change will allow people to continue using toothpastions, toothbaths, toothpicks, toothgels and other toothpastings made with stannols that have been linked with dental disease and other adverse health effects,” he explained.
For example, the AACC has not approved the use in toothpaste of an acid-free ingredient, a product containing stannolyl, a flavouring ingredient, because it was found to be more irritating than a placebo.”