Fluoride is a natural compound from the element fluorine, which is abundant in the earth. This compound is found in the rocks and soil and, as water passes over it, the compound dissolves to add varying amounts of fluoride concentration in all water sources. The use of fluoride is an essential part of modern-day dentistry. Let’s explore a few of the myths and facts about the use of fluoride.
Myth: Regular brushing will stop tooth decay.
Fact: While brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist are critical to preventing tooth decay, fluoride can provide additional benefit.
Dental decay occurs from plaque, a deposit of bacteria that forms on the teeth. This bacterium combines with the sugars and carbohydrates you eat to form an acid. It is this acid that can attack and break down the enamel on teeth and causes a cavity to form. Fluoride reduces the ability of plaque bacteria to produce acid and can also improve the tooth enamel to resist acid. Fluoride is a vital part in fighting tooth decay.
Myth: Fluoride doesn’t really help end tooth decay.
Fact: Fluoride stops mineral loss in tooth enamel, helps rebuild weak tooth enamel, and minimizes the ability of bacteria to make acid that results in decay.
Fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash or from dental treatments helps protect teeth. Also, water fluoridation (the addition of optimal levels of fluoride to public drinking water) has also played a significant role in improving dental health by reducing tooth decay.
Fluoride is naturally occurring in all drinking water and water that has fluoride added brings the fluoride to an optimal level. Water fluoridation is one of the most widely researched public health measures in history and it, alone, has been found to reduce dental decay by 20-40%.
Myth: A lot of fluoride must be good for my teeth.
Fact: As with most minerals, too much of a good thing can be bad.
Too much exposure to fluoride can cause fluorosis, which stains the teeth, and can cause bones to become brittle over time. While fluoride has been proven to make teeth more resistant to bacteria and resulting cavities, it’s important to use the correct amount.
Water fluoridation is carefully monitored to ensure the optimal amount of fluoride exists in the water supply. Patients should also do their part and follow the instructions on fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, using only the recommended amount and avoiding swallowing these cleaning agents.
Myth: Fluoride is unsafe for children.
Fact: It is critical for young children to strengthen their growing teeth with the optimal exposure to fluoride.
The American Academy of Pediatrics believes fluoride use will prevent and control cavities and is safe and effective. Likewise, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends fluoride supplements if there is no access to fluoridated water. Fluoride will help children have stronger and more decay-resistant teeth over their lifetime. Parents should consider fluoride treatments from the dentist and use fluoride toothpaste per the instructions.
Myth: Fluoride treatments at the dentist don’t really help.
Fact: Dental fluoride treatments have helped protect the oral health of children and adults patients for decades.
The professional fluoride treatment available from the dentist is an excellent preventative measure, especially for patients who are at a higher risk of developing cavities. While fluoride prevents tooth decay, it also can reverse early decay from plaque bacteria. Dental treatments are an easy, fast, and effective way to keep everyone’s teeth healthy and strong.
If you have other questions about fluoride and fluoride treatments, talk to your dentist for more information. To book your next checkup and stay on the road to good oral health, contact us at (303) 447-1042.