Everything You Need to Know and More!
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month! So, today we’re talking about fluoride. Why use fluoride? Plus, find out everything you need to know and more about fluoride use for both kids and adults.
First, What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural element that is found in your bones and your teeth. Fluoride is also found in water, soil, air, rocks, plants, and some foods. This mineral is typically used as an additive in toothpaste and mouth rinses and is also available in supplement form.
Many municipalities also fluoridate their tap water by adding a small amount to the public water supply. Water fluoridation has been known to protect teeth and help prevent the occurrence of cavities within a population.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average number of missing or decaying teeth in 12-year-old children in the United States dropped by 68% from the late 1960s through the early 1990s. This progress occurred after fluoridated water was introduced to communities and fluoride was added to toothpastes and other dental products.
The Importance of Fluoride
Fluoride is essential to your dental health. Dentists often use fluoride to strengthen enamel, which is the protective outer coating of your teeth. It’s important to preserve your enamel because, once gone, it cannot be repaired or replaced.
Using fluoride is beneficial for both children and adults. The presence of fluoride also helps to prevent cavities by reversing the early signs of tooth decay. Fluoride can also prevent harmful bacteria growth and help to remineralize your tooth enamel.
Consuming Fluoride: What You Need to Know
Although fluoride is a natural element and is naturally present in our teeth and bones, like anything else, it can cause side effects if consumed in large doses. As of 2015, the maximum allowed presence of fluoride in water was about 0.7 parts per million (ppm).
Both dental fluorosis (more common in young children under the age of 8) and skeletal fluorosis (a less common occurrence) can appear from ingesting too much toothpaste or from other contamination possibilities. Dental fluorosis shows up as white spots on emerging adult teeth, while skeletal fluorosis can cause aches, pains, and arthritis.
At Peace Haven Family Dentistry, we always recommend closely supervising small children when they brush their teeth to ensure they are not swallowing toothpaste.
Is My Drinking Water Fluoridated?
Not every city fluoridates their water supply. The CDC provides a free online tool to check if your local water is fluoridated. You can also call your local municipality to check if they fluoridate your water and to what degree. If you get your water from a well, then your water is not fluoridated.
If your city does not fluoridate your water, you can maximize your protection from fluoride and stay within acceptable levels by doing the following:
- Brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash once daily.
- Ask your dentist about a professional fluoride treatment (gel, foam or varnish).
- Get stronger concentrations available through prescription (toothpaste, liquid or tablet).
Do you have questions or concerns about fluoride?
We’re always happy to help answer your questions. Call or contact us today!