The Truth about Fluoride

March 16, 2017 | General Dentistry

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in the earth’s crust that is widely distributed in our world and even found in much of our food and water supplies. In Utah, and other states, fluoride is added to drinking water in an effort to promote healthier teeth by reducing tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have even said that water fluoridation is one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20 th century. Abundant Dental Care wanted to share some facts to promote awareness about how beneficial fluoride is to your oral health.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride bonds to tooth enamel making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria, thus providing additional protection from decay and cavities. Fluoride offers protection for children and adults, which often results in long-term money savings. For most cities, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs.

Is Fluoridated Water Safe?

Fluoride is completely safe and effective when used properly. All water-fluoridation systems are legally required to be regulated and maintain safe levels for drinking. Water fluoridation has been endorsed by numerous organizations in the United States including: multiple Surgeon Generals, American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association, World Health Organization, and American Academy of Pediatrics.

Can You Ingest Too Much Fluoride?

Cosmetic fluorosis may occur when a person swallows large amounts of fluoride. Fluorosis is characterized by the appearance of streaking white lines on teeth. It is very unlikely that one would contract it from drinking fluoridated water. Fluorosis is more common when one consistently swallows prescription fluoride tablets or toothpaste. In cases of fluorosis, symptoms are typically very mild and any damage can only be seen up close.

Europe Doesn’t Have Fluoridated Water, So Why Should the U.S.?

European countries have fluoridated water in certain areas, but even more use salt fluoridation instead. Salt fluoridation is also used in Latin America to deliver fluoride to the population.

Doesn’t Toothpaste Have Enough Fluoride in It?

Toothpaste doesn’t always provide enough protection with the level of fluoride it contains. Drinking fluoridated water (systemic benefits) paired with toothpaste (topical benefits) makes a winning combination in fighting tooth decay.

Is Fluoride Safe For Children?

Absolutely. In fact, all children should be using fluoridated toothpaste. The American Dental Association updated their guidelines to encourage fluoride use for all children in 2014 after they did research about the benefits in cavity prevention for ages 6 and under. If your child is younger than 6, you should always supervise their brushing and make sure they don’t swallow toothpaste. Use only a pea-sized amount of the toothpaste and encourage them to spit out as much of it as possible after brushing.

To sum it up, fluoride, especially when found in water is a great resource for maintaining and encouraging healthy teeth. Any residual effects are highly unlikely to occur and the benefits vastly outweigh any potential issues.