Water fluoridation was heralded as one of the best public health achievements in the twentieth century. Lately, concerns about excessive fluoride intake and related toxicity were raised. Health-care professionals and the public need guidance regarding the debate around fluoridation. Fluoride is considered beneficial when given systemically during tooth development, and later research has shown the importance and the advantages of its topical effects in the prevention or treatment of dental caries and tooth decay. The truth is, when used correctly, fluoride does not pose a threat to overall health. Instead, it provides a benefit to oral health and aids in preventing cavities.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is an inorganic, monatomic anion of fluorine, with the chemical formula F⁻ , whose salts are typically white or colorless. Fluoride salts typically have distinctive bitter tastes, and are odorless. It is a natural mineral found in soil, water and foods. Synthetic Fluoride (The fluoride added to public drinking water is synthetic, a form of fluoride called sodium fluoride (NaF)). Synthetic fluoride is what is used also in toothpaste and mouthwashes.
Products And Foods That Contain Fluoride
When fluoride was first added to water in the 1940s as a means of preventing tooth decay, not a single dental product contained fluoride… no fluoride toothpastes, no fluoride mouth rinses, no fluoride dental floss, no fluoride gels and no fluoride varnishes. All these now contain synthetic Fluoride. In the past 60 years, as one fluoride product after another entered the market, exposure to fluoride increased considerably, particularly. But, did you know that there are many foods that contain fluoride naturally?
Foods that have a lot of fluoride…
- Grapes, Raisins, and Wine. Grapes in all their forms contain fluoride.
- Potatoes. Baked potatoes are a good source for fluoride!
- Crab. Not only are crab legs a fancy seafood treat, but they also have high levels of natural fluoride!
- Black Tea
- Raw Fruit
In a study by Cochrane, when fluoride was added to the water supply, children experienced 35 percent fewer decayed, missing or filled baby teeth and there was a 15 percent increase in children with no decay in their baby teeth. For children younger than age 8, fluoride helps strengthen the adult (permanent) teeth that are developing under the gums. For adults not only can fluoride strengthen teeth to prevent future decay. It can also help to arrest early decay, thus preventing the need to fill a tooth. Adults can benefit from fluoride because as we age, our teeth weaken as well making them more susceptible to decay.
How Fluoride Fights Cavities
When fluorine, which is negatively charged, meets a positively-charged ion like sodium, cavity fighters are born. The fluoride works to prevent tooth decay by changing the way enamel develops in children under the age of 7. Better quality enamel is formed assisting in resistance to acid attack. This reduces the ability of bacteria in plaque to produce acid. When acid is not produced it helps to protect and strengthen tooth enamel to prevent tooth decay and large dental bills down the road.
Is Dental Fluoride Safe?
Fluoride treatments are generally a completely safe procedure. The only time they’re unsafe is if a patient has an allergic reaction to the fluoride, although this is extremely rare. Some people believe that fluoride, and fluoridated water, pose harm to the public however moderation is key. It is proven that fluoride is beneficial to reducing tooth decay however there are side effects if you swallow too much fluoride. One side effect is temporary white spots or streaks on teeth with high fluoride exposure. Most never have to worry about consuming too much fluoride because there are regulations about the addition of fluoridation in water and in dental hygiene products. Children need about 500 micrograms (or 0.5 milligrams) and adults need about 3,000-4,000 micrograms (3-4 milligrams) a day. Over 100 national and international health and other organizations recognize the benefits of adding a safe amount of fluoride to water and dental products.
Overall the guaranteed benefits outweigh the potential risk of using fluoride and we should consider fluoride our friend.
This does not mean that fluoride use alone will prevent cavities. And just remember, bottled water products labeled as deionized, purified or distilled have been treated in such a way that they contain no or only trace amounts of fluoride, unless they specifically list fluoride as an added ingredient. So only tap water will contain fluoride. If you are concerned about fluoride treatment feel free to talk to your dentist about your issues. A consistent home care routine will be needed along with at least 2 cleaning/check-ups a year with your dentist.
Contact us (859) 586-7900 for more information or to make an appointment!
About Torbeck Dental
Torbeck Dental treats every patient with dignity and excellent care. We are highly-trained dental professionals with exceptionally friendly and helpful service. We understand that for many, visiting a dentist can be a stressful experience so our comfortable surroundings and compassionate staff will ease any fears you may have. We are here to help you achieve your happiest and healthiest smile! Our dental team are a group experienced professionals using the latest treatments. Our team has the professional experience to realize that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all treatment, so we never use a one-size-fits-all approach to your dental plan. We provide quality and personalized oral health care while keeping your individuality in mind. Our goal is to improve and maintain your oral health so you can smile with confidence!