Let’s Talk about Fluoride

Visiting the dentist every six months is a critical step in maintaining your healthy teeth and gums. At your visit, the dentist will scrape off any plaque and tartar compiled on your teeth, do a thorough examination, and leave you with a shiny set of pearly whites. As part of your regular checkup, your dentist may also apply fluoride varnishes, gels, or foams to your teeth.
Fluoride prevents tooth decay and cavities in adults and children. Though, many people are concerned about its potential side effects despite its many benefits.
At Clock Tower Dental, we want to clear the air around fluoride. Read on to discover more about this tooth enamel-protecting mineral.

What Is Fluoride?

Often referred to as ‘nature’s cavity fighter,’ fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that can be found in the Earth’s crust, as well as in the water, soil, plants, and air. It is also added to some community water supplies to better the dental health of their citizens.
The benefits of fluoride were discovered in the 1930s when a study found that children who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water had healthier teeth than those who drank non-fluoridated water. Repeatedly, studies have shown that water supply fluoridation is directly connected to a decrease in tooth decay.

What does Fluoride do?

Through a process called remineralization, Fluoride strengthens teeth and gums, prevents cavities, and promotes strong enamel. Enamel is the protective outer layer of your teeth and the strongest tissue in your body. Your enamel protects your teeth from physical, thermal, and chemical damage that may occur when you eat. However, it can be eroded, leaving your dental pulp vulnerable to damage due to the weakened enamel.

As bacteria builds in your mouth, a sticky layer of dental plaque will form on your teeth. This bacteria will feed on carbohydrates and sugar, causing your mouth to secrete acidic saliva that can erode your teeth and damage your gums. Fluoride protects the enamel of your teeth from erosion, keeping them safe from cavities and tooth decay.

Sources of Fluoride

Due to its natural concentration, tap water in fluoridated communities is one of the primary sources of fluoride. Similarly, food and beverages processed with this water will also be a source.
Fluoride intake may also result from toothpaste consumption, especially in children. Other professional over-the-counter fluoride-containing products are mouth rinses and mouthwashes.

Some dietary supplements may contain sodium fluoride. These fluoride supplements are typically found in multivitamins and multi-minerals or supplements containing trace minerals.
Bottled water does not typically undergo water fluoridation. In the cases that it is added, it is required by law to not exceed 1.7 mg/L.

Myths and Facts

Because there are many myths surrounding fluoride usage, we want to clear up any concerns that you may have.

Myth: If you fluoridate drinking water it will cause dental fluorosis

Fact: Dental fluorosis, the occurrence of faint, white speckles on the teeth, occurs when a person ingests a high amount of fluoride over some time. In the United States, the level at which community water systems are fluoridated is typically not enough to cause fluorosis.
Community water fluoridation is done as a public health measure to prevent dental decay. Check with your local water system provider to see if your water supply is fluoridated.

Myth: Fluoridated tap water is not necessary because there is fluoride in toothpaste

Fact: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you should drink water with the optimal fluoride concentration and brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. They work together to provide the maximum protection for your tooth enamel.

Myth: Children should not have fluoride

Fact: Fluoride is essential for the healthy development of children’s teeth. Documented use of fluoride has shown it to be both safe and effective.
However, children who swallow fluoride toothpaste are at a higher risk for mild fluorosis as it contains a higher concentration of fluoride than drinking water. This is not harmful to their health, but to reduce the chance of white speckled teeth please supervise your children when they brush and follow proper guidelines on how much toothpaste to use. Teach them to spit so they do not accidentally swallow toothpaste.

Myth: Fluoride is not natural

Fact: Naturally occurring fluoride in water is found at an average level of about 0.2 mg/L, and in some places, it can be higher. For example, natural Boise drinking water levels run, on average, between 0.2 and 0.6 mg/L.

At Clock Tower Dental, we want to make sure that you have a healthy and protected smile. Take care of your oral health by calling to schedule your next appointment!

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