Fluoride is a natural mineral, like calcium or salt, that has been repeatedly shown to be able to strengthen tooth enamel. Due to this property, fluoride has been added to municipal water systems in developed countries for about 70 years. For those curious about the efficacy of fluoride and how it works, here is more information from our Hickory family dentist.
In your mouth—in everyone’s mouth—live millions of bacteria, some beneficial and some destructive. These bacteria love to feast on carbohydrates and sugars, converting them into acids that destroy your enamel. The acid strips calcium and phosphate from the tooth enamel, weakening it.
Your mouth’s saliva disrupts this process. As it coats your teeth, it restores the calcium and phosphate that have been stripped away. When your saliva contains trace amounts of fluoride, from toothpaste or fluoride water, it combines with the calcium and phosphate to create a mineral called fluoroapatite. This substance is much stronger and more resistant to decay than any one mineral on its own. It’s the most powerful natural defense system your teeth can have to prevent cavities from forming.
If your city has fluorided drinking water, and your teeth are relatively healthy, all you need to do is brush with a fluorided toothpaste twice a day, and stop by our Hickory dentist office for your biannual cleaning. If your water doesn’t have the addition of fluoride, your dentist may recommend in-office fluoride treatments to make sure you’re getting the protection you need.
Adding fluoride to community water sources has been controversial since its introduction, but multiple studies across many decades have confirmed that it is a safe, healthy way to improve public dental hygiene, especially in low-income areas. Various studies have compared the use of fluoride to the prevalence of allergies, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and other health conditions, each finding no correlation. Most dentists consider fluoride to be a safe, naturally-occurring mineral that has greatly helped our society gain better dental health.
However, just like any other mineral, there is such a thing as too much, especially for small children. If a baby or toddler swallows more than a pea-sized amount of fluorided toothpaste, he or she may experience stomach upset. If this happens, the National Capital Poison Center recommends giving them milk, yogurt, or broccoli-based baby food, because the calcium will bind to the fluoride and mitigate its effects.
If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough fluoride, or you’d like to learn about another dental treatment in Hickory, swing by Viewpoint Family Dentistry. Our office has treated countless happy patients in the Hickory area, and we can’t wait to help you, too! To request an appointment, please click here.