As you grow older, your teeth become prone to different gum diseases and problems like gingivitis, periodontal diseases and other oral health problems.
That’s when fluoride comes in.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral part of sodium fluoride or sodium compound which is abundant here on earth and is circulated in nature. Its significance was not found until the 1930s where a study was shown that when people take naturally fluoride water, tooth cavities and gum problems were decreased.
Since then, it has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and World Health Organization that using fluoride in water supplies can lead to lessened tooth decays. Then it became available to mouth cleansing products like toothpaste to strengthen teeth and avoid tooth decay.
Today, fluoride therapy is widely practiced as you personally deliver fluoride into your teeth via different form. Aside from your fluoride-containing toothpaste, there are other topical applications like fluoride varnishes, gels and mouth rinses to protect your teeth.
Different forms of fluoride therapy include:
- Toothpaste: Most toothpaste brands have fluoride. It has about 0.22% fluoride to help prevent mouth cavity.
- Water fluoridation: The United States water supply adds fluoride to its public water supply to avoid tooth decay. The government assures though that the fluoride added to water is safe and in accordance to the rules and regulations of the state.
- Gel: Those who have high risks of tooth decay and those undergoing head and neck radiations are prescribed with Fluoride gels. Additionally, it is also suggested if you have decreased salivary flow or those with permanent molars. Fluoride gels have the same consistency as toothpaste and some are available for home applications. The foams on the other hand uses a mouth tray and you bite into it for about 4 minutes, under the condition not to eat food or water intake as well as not smoking for 30 minutes. To know more about these products, don’t hesitate to consult your dentist.
- Mouthwash: Mouthwash contains fluoride to help strengthen your teeth and avoid tooth decay. It also has antibacterial components to fight off bacteria caused by plaque formation. It also reduces bad mouth odor.
- Varnish: This is applied directly to your teeth with the use of a brush and it sets after a few seconds. Like other fluoride-containing forms, it aims to protect your teeth from bacteria causing serious gum problems.
Is Fluoride Safe?
Several reports have been circulated all through the globe about fluoride. In point of fact, after long years of careful research, the scientific conclusion is that properly fluoridated water and fluoride-based toothpaste, milk and salt are of superior benefit to one’s dental health.
This aids minimize dental caries and cause no dangerous adverse effects to a person’s overall wellness. Research has not unveiled any proof that fluoride added to water causes no detrimental adverse effects.
On the other hand, those people who are opposed to fluoridation claim that fluoride added to water is definitely damaging. However, in the correct amounts and used adequately, fluoride is 100% safe.
However, there are cases where fluoride may be potentially damaging:
Fluorosis is caused by excessive and prolonged intake of fluorine, and produces bone and dental anomalies. In addition, keep in mind the below:
- There may be an acute poisoning by accidental ingestion of insecticides or rodenticides with fluoride salts that can cause death.
- Excess fluoride intake is toxic and can cause fluorosis as it weakens the enamel (causing more caries) and weakens our bones (more decalcification and osteoporosis).
- Too much fluoride can discolor or stain your teeth forever.
- Fluorosis, especially between year and a half and 3 years old. At this age, children do not fully understand the act of brushing teeth and spit, usually the child swallows the mixture increasing daily doses of fluorine for their age.
Optimal levels of fluoride in water is 1 part per million (1 ppm), equivalent to one milligram of fluoride ion in 1 liter of water. This measure is controversial and it is not accepted in all countries. Try not to exceed the recommended amount.
Benefits of Fluoride
Fluoride is beneficial for all age groups as it…
- Increases the resistance of enamel to dental caries
- Assists young, developing secondary teeth
- Minimize the amount of acid which the bacteria present on the teeth produce
- Promotes “remineralization” and facilitates entry into the structure of calcium and phosphate ions. This is because the fluoride is negatively charged and attracts the calcium and phosphate with a positive charge.
- It has antibacterial action that attacks the bacteria that colonizes the tooth surface.
- It helps where there is a deficit; with calcium and Vitamin D. It helps treat osteoporosis and solidifies bones.
- In case a person requires special oral care, fluoride treatments are even more valuable. Any person who wears braces must also receive fluoride treatments constantly in order to impede bacteria from getting stuck beneath the wires.
How to Get Fluoride?
The good news is that all water contains fluoride. To figure out the amount fluoride present in the water consumed every day, ask the local water supplier.
Another simple approach is the use of fluoride-based toothpaste when brushing and rinsing the mouth with oral rinse.
Likewise, consider purchasing fluoride gel and use this at home. Apply the fluoride gel directly on the mouth and allow this to sit for a few minutes and afterwards thoroughly rinse with water. Do not eat or drink for approximately 30 minutes after the application of the fluoride gel.
10 Fluoride Facts
You know what fluoride is, but how much do you really know about this mineral?
FACT #1: Fluoride naturally occurs in water, which when adjusted to optimal level, will protect and whiten teeth.
The recommended amount of fluoride in water is 0.7 parts per million.
FACT #2: Fluoridation can be practiced by anyone.
The United States was the first country to do water fluoridation. They consider it as one of the “top 10 public health achievements of the 20th century.” Few other countries do the same. However, other developed countries like Europe instead add fluoride to products such as salt and milk
FACT #3: Tooth decay cases are not dependent on whether or not the country fluoridates.
In the United States, the decrease in the number of people who suffer from tooth decay is being attributed to water fluoridation. However, the same decrease has happened in several other countries that do not fluoridate their water.
FACT #4: Many tissues in the body, not just the teeth, are affected by fluoride.
It also affects your bones, thyroid gland, pineal gland, blood sugar levels, and your brain. Too much fluoride is associated with several health conditions such as:
- Brain damage
- Bone disorders
- Thyroid disease
- Low intelligence/IQ
- Hyperactivity or lethargy
- Muscle disorders
- Bone cancer
- Increased lead absorption
- Thyroid disease arthritis
- Bone fractures
- Lowered thyroid function
- Disrupted immune system
- Damaged sperm or increased infertility
- Increased tumor and cancer rate
FACT #5: Water fluoridation is a natural series of chemical operations.
Fluorosilicic acid, the compound used to add fluoride to water in the USA, is not what most people would consider natural. It’s a biting acid caught in devices that control air pollution. It is being captured because the gases are very harmful air pollutants, and it can cause severe environmental harm. This is risky and could even lead to cancer.
FACT #6: Fluoride exposure is important for infants and children according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
When used to prevent and control cavities, it can be very safe and effective. Just be cautious about overexposure, which can cause dental fluorosis – They are also at a very high risk for brain damage due to fluoride toxicity.
FACT #7: The FDA did not approve fluoride supplements.
Most vitamin supplements can be bought over the counter, but this is not the same case with fluoride supplements (for prevention of tooth decay), as it can only be bought with a doctor’s prescription.
FACT #8: It’s the only medicine added to public water.
Fluoride is only considered an approved medicine by FDA standards when it’s added to water to prevent tooth decay.
FACT #9: Teeth are not expected to benefit as much when fluoride is swallowed.
Research shows that it is most beneficial when used in direct contact with teeth, compared to direct ingestion through drinking water or taking pills.
FACT #10: Fluoride mostly damages underdeveloped countries.
This happens because underdeveloped countries have less dental practitioners who can give them optimal dental care. They only rely on the fluoride found in water, which has harmful effects in the long run.
Although fluoride is a main component that helps us improve our dental health, it’s still important to understand everything about it to avoid its harmful effects.