Over the years, the use of fluoride in both water and toothpaste has been very controversial. Some people argue that fluoride can cause serious health issues, while experts have found that fluoride can significantly improve dental health. So what’s the truth? Today, we’re going to look at the scientific facts to determine whether fluoride is good or bad for your teeth.
What is It?
Remember that periodic table you were forced to learn about in high school? Well fluorine is on that table. The fluoride ion comes from fluorine, which is an element. Fluorine is found naturally all over the earth, in soil, food, water, and minerals. Fluoride can also be made in laboratories to be added to water and dental products, like toothpaste. Fluoride is commonly added to water to reduce tooth decay in communities.
Why is Fluoride Good for Your Teeth?
Studies have shown that adding fluoride to water has reduced dental decay by 20 to 40%, according to American Dental Association (ADA). That’s a huge positive effect! In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that adding fluoride to water is one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
So why is fluoride so good for your teeth? When you consume fluoride, it collects in areas that are high in calcium, including your teeth. This helps teeth in several ways:
- When children with developing teeth eat or drink fluoride in safe amounts, it builds up inside their teeth. This provides them with extra lasting strength and protection against acids.
- Fluoride can also strengthen enamel in adult teeth. When you eat or drink fluoride, it becomes a part of your saliva. Since your saliva constantly soaks your teeth, it provides your teeth’s surface with fluoride, strengthening enamel and preventing decay.
- Topical fluoride, like toothpaste and mouthwash, help to make the surface of your teeth more resistant to decay.
- Your saliva works to keep your enamel hard by constantly replenishing your teeth with minerals, like calcium and phosphorous. When there’s fluoride in your saliva along with these other minerals, the minerals that replenish your teeth are extra strong. This keeps your teeth as hard and protected against decay as possible.
As long as you have healthy teeth and a low risk of tooth decay, drinking water that contains a safe amount of fluoride and brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste should provide you with a sufficient amount of fluoride.
Can Fluoride Be Bad for Your Teeth?
If fluoride is so great for your teeth, why is it so controversial? Some people think that it can cause serious health issues, including cancer, kidney failure or bone disease. It’s true that too much fluoride may cause issues. But as long as it is consumed properly, it is safe and effective, according to the ADA. In fact, for generations, millions of people have been drinking natural water with fluoride in higher concentrations than those now recommended.
Since fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes isn’t ingested, the real fear people have is when it’s found in water, other drinks and food. The ADA notes that 60 years of research and practical experience has given us sufficient evidence that indicates that fluoride in community water is safe and effective. American Cancer Society (ACA) also states that the general consensus of scientific reviews is that there’s no strong evidence of a link between fluoride in water and cancer. However, more research can be done to clarify the link.
As long as you use fluoride in the correct dosage, it should provide safe and effective protection against tooth decay. You should never swallow toothpaste, mouthwash, or other dental products that warn against ingestion. If you or your child receives fluoride supplements, you or your child must take only the amount that is prescribed to avoid overdose. If you’re worried about the amount of fluoride in your local public water, the ACA recommends contacting your local community water system.
Where Can You Get It?
There are many ways you can get fluoride to support your dental health. Just make sure to follow the indicated instructions and use the correct dose. Here are some common sources of fluoride:
- Dietary fluoride supplements
- Professionally applied foams, gels and varnishes
It’s important that you get enough fluoride to keep your teeth healthy. If you’re worried that you’re experiencing tooth decay, come on into Water Tower Dental Care! We can help you find out if you need more fluoride and can tell you the most efficient way to get it. Feel free to contact us today!