Can Fluoride Really Protect Your Teeth?
Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally present in many foods, water and available as a dietary supplement. Fluoride is the ionic form of the element fluorine and is found throughout the Earth’s crust and widely distributed through nature.
Soil, water, plants and foods contain small amounts of fluoride. Most of the fluoride we consume is from our water supply, foods, toothpaste and other dental products. Fluoride is often added to community drinking water supplies that do not have sufficient levels to help strengthen teeth and reduce tooth decay.
Enamel is the outer layer of the tooth and is made from calcium and phosphate. Surprisingly, it is the hardest structure in the body even harder than bone. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphate which helps keep the teeth nice and strong.
Eating sugary foods and carbohydrates can cause cavity producing bacteria which attack the enamel. Sugars and carbohydrates combined with bacteria produce acids that can lead to tooth decay. The acid strips the tooth enamel of calcium and phosphates leaving your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.
Fluoride helps with decay in two distinctive ways. When children eat or drink fluoride in proper doses, the fluoride enters the bloodstream and becomes part of their developing permanent teeth. It also becomes part of the saliva and helps strengthen enamel. Once the tooth has absorbed the fluoride it combines with the calcium and phosphate to create fluorapatite. Fluorapatite makes the tooth enamel even stronger and more resistant to decay. As mentioned previously, ways to get fluoride at home are community water supplies, toothpastes, rinses and supplements.
Fluoride is safe when used properly and in appropriate doses. The main risk linked to an overuse of fluoride is dental fluorosis. It is a condition that children can develop if they are exposed to too much fluoride over a long period of time. Signs of fluorosis are white spots, lines, brown of gray discoloration on the enamel. Water fluoridation systems in developed countries are well maintained and tested regularly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that the safety and benefits of fluoride are well documented, with scientific evidence showing no adverse health effects when consumed in the correct amounts.
There are several options when it comes to fluoride treatments. Topical fluoride are products that are applied directly to the teeth. Examples of these are toothpastes, mouth rinses and professional fluoride treatments done in the dental office. Topical fluoride treatments may be in the mouth for a short time but the fluoride levels stay high for several hours after.
The combination of fluoridated toothpaste and fluoridated drinking water is sufficient enough to maintain already healthy teeth. If the tap water in your area isn't fluoridated, your dentist may recommend in-office fluoride treatments to ensure you are getting the protection you need.
Professional fluoride treatments are applied as a varnish, gel or foam. Professional fluoride treatments have a higher strength than prescription or over-the-counter toothpastes and mouth rinses. Professional fluoride treatments should only be applied by a dental professional.
At Clinique Dentaire WM Dorval we are happy to answer any questions you may have about fluoride. Regular cleanings and check-u
ps are the best way to ensure your teeth are healthy and getting the protection they need to fight cavities. Call us today to book your next appointment 514-631-3811.