luoride is commonly mentioned when it comes to dental care, but not everyone is aware of quite what it does. The average person knows that it has some benefits for the teeth but likely does not know much more than this. Learning more about fluoride is one of the important parts of caring for your oral health, so we gathered everything you should know about it.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in various foods and water. It naturally occurs in your teeth and bones but also naturally occurs in plants, rocks, soil, water, and the air.
How Does Fluoride Help Your Teeth?
Your teeth go through demineralization and remineralization constantly, with these processes removing minerals from your enamel and adding them back, respectively. The demineralization occurs from acids in the mouth attacking the enamel. Your saliva helps with mineralization, redepositing minerals like calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. If your mouth experiences more demineralization than mineralization, you can develop tooth decay.
As mentioned, fluoride is one of the important minerals involved in mineralization. Fluoride serves several purposes in your mouth, including:
- Improving your teeth’s resistance to acid attacks that would weaken enamel
- Reversing early symptoms of tooth decay
- In children younger than six years old, it incorporates into permanent tooth development, making teeth stronger and preventing demineralization
- Speeds up remineralization
- Disrupts production of acid in teeth that have already erupted
Is Fluoride More Important at Certain Ages?
Regardless of your age, fluoride is important to the overall health of your teeth.
In children between six months old and 16 years old, fluoride helps strengthen the permanent teeth that are coming in.
For adults, fluoride is incredibly helpful at fighting tooth decay.
How Can You Use Fluoride?
You can easily find over-the-counter dental hygiene products with fluoride, including toothpaste and mouth rinses. Your dentist can also prescribe similar products with a higher concentration of fluoride.
Your dentist, Dr. Dhiraj Sharma, also commonly applies fluoride to your teeth during regular visits. These treatments have strong doses and come in the form of a varnish, foam, or gel.
Your doctor or dentist can also prescribe you fluoride tablets or liquid supplements.
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Fluoride?
If you consume too much fluoride, there are potential side effects, but this is not a risk for most people. That is even true with the fluoride commonly added to water in the United States, as there is a maximum allowed concentration of 0.7 parts per million.
This typically only affects those younger than eight years old who are still waiting for their permanent teeth to come in. It can lead to white spots on the teeth’s surface but is not harmful. The most common cause is children swallowing toothpaste that contains fluoride.
This is very rare and typically only happens if someone has exposure to high fluoride levels in the long term. It affects the bones and can lead to stiffness and joint pain. Eventually, it can lead to ligament calcification and alterations to bone structure.
Fluoride Is Safe and Helpful in Low Doses, Including in Your Water
The bottom line when it comes to fluoride is that it helps keep your teeth and mouth healthy, and unless you consume a lot of it, you will not have any negative effects.
For more information on fluoride, visit our website!