Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

What is Fluoride?

Remember the feeling of the cold leather reclining chair, a blinding light, and a pair of eyes glaring into your mouth followed by the question, “Which flavor of mouthwash would you like?” Well, that’s a very typical trip to the dentist for your bi-yearly teeth cleaning. Have you ever stopped to think, what does the mouthwash contain? Also, why does the dentist tell me I can’t swallow it? Does it really help prevent cavities?  American dentist offices have been using mouthwash for decades, but a lot of questions have been raised about the main ingredient fluoride.

The Breakdown of Fluoride

To demystify the ideas about Fluoride we need to start at the beginning. Fluoride is an element that naturally can be found in water and soil. The amount of fluoride found in food and drink could depend on location. Dentists have found that it’s good to use in the prevention of cavities. Fluoride also helps to prevent tooth decay by coating the tooth with a protective layer that fights the bacteria found in plaque, which resides on the surface of teeth. Now, it’s important to distinguish between two types of fluoride humans are using.

Topical Fluoride

  • Found in mouthwash and toothpaste
  • Cannot swallow topical fluoride
  • Coats the surface of teeth to fight plaque
  • Dentists may prescribe a gel or paste

Systemic Fluoride

  • Found in fluoridated water
  • Can appear in small traces of food and beverages
  • In saliva, naturally protects teeth
  • The body absorbs this in the digestive tract

Is Fluoride Dangerous?

Water fluoridation in many countries has been removed with the idea that there are negative health effects. There are studies that state that fluoridated water is not good for kidneys. This is because kidneys are supposed to flush the body of toxins, but fluoride is primary absorbed when fluoride is ingested. There is the concern that the kidneys cannot fully remove the excess deposits of fluoride. The American Dental Association (ADA), fully supports fluoridation, the reasoning behind public water fluoridation is that it greatly reduces dental decay. There are communities that use non-fluoridated water and the ADA found a 20-40% increase in dental decay. By reducing dental decay it keeps the costs associated with expensive dental work in a manageable range. It’s recommended that families in areas without fluoridated water seek supplemental options to reduce risks of tooth decay.

5 Ways to Use Fluoride

1.) Brushing your teeth can greatly reduce the risk of forming cavities. Based on the two types of fluoride, toothpaste is a quick topical form. As mentioned above it’s known that a high dose of fluoride is unsafe. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t ingest toothpaste. Top dentists recommend that good dental hygiene will start with brushing your teeth to remove plaque.

2.) Find out if you live in a community with fluoridated water. Most communities in America have regulations in place to provide homes with treated water. Overall, the benefits of fluoride are good for families looking to keep good dental hygiene. Poor dental care can be expensive and painful.

3.) Visits to the dentist will help reduces the risks of plaque buildup. Some people are more prove to cavities and by going to the dentist you keep your smile healthier, longer. For the people that are more prone to cavities there are options for dental paste. This can help manage cavities safely; find out if your teeth need special treatment. Most people that use fluoridated water do not have to worry about tooth decay as frequently.

4.) The traces of fluoride that are found through systematic fluoride can be found in food and drink. When you consume this type of fluoride it absorbs into the digestive system and becomes a part of saliva, this coats teeth all day. This type is not harmful and it can be digested safely.

5.) Children are the most susceptible to cavities because they have growing teeth and need to be monitored for how much sugar they consume. Taking your children to the dentist allows them to have good healthy teeth right from the start. Dentists will ask parents permission to use fluoride and it’s an encouraged way for teeth cleaning.

Dental Hygiene

It’s important to look at the positive impact fluoride has on teeth. While fluoride would not be good in high doses, it will greatly impact the overall health of your smile. Make sure to ask your dentist about what’s right for your teeth.

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