When it comes to preventive dentistry, fluoride is one of those essential elements teeth need to remain healthy. This mineral helps to strengthen teeth enamel – which is constantly facing exposure to acids from the bacteria in a person’s mouth and in foods.
As important as fluoride is for preventive dentistry, most people do not know much about this essential element. Here is a look at some frequently asked questions about fluoride.
Q. What exactly is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral in natural sources of water, some foods and in the soil.
Q. Why is fluoride essential for preventive dentistry?
Fluoride helps to fight off tooth decay, which is one of the most common oral diseases right next to gum disease. Fluoride does this by strengthening a person’s teeth, making them more resistant to tooth decay. Fluoride can also help to reverse the early stages of tooth decay.
Q. What are good sources of fluoride?
One of the best sources of fluoride is in public drinking water since this is typically fluoridated in most developed nations. Fluoride is also an ingredient in many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash. Dentists have access to even more concentrated forms of fluoride like gels and varnish that can protect a person’s teeth for months at a time.
Q. What happens when you ingest too much fluoride?
Dental fluorosis occurs when a person has higher than normal fluoride levels during childhood. It changes the appearance of the person’s teeth, with white specks showing up on them. So long as the person speaks with a dentist about fluoride use, they will be able to learn how much fluoride is the proper amount.
Q. What is fluoridated water?
This is the process of adding fluoride to a water supply. This tactic is fairly common and effective at fighting tooth decay since people cannot taste any difference.
Q. Why is water fluoridated?
Fluoride is often in public water systems to protect the community from tooth decay. It is a safe way to ensure everyone in the community is getting enough fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
Q. How much fluoride is in public water?
There is just enough fluoride in public water to ensure a community gets the proper amount. There is not enough fluoride in the water to cause fluorosis or other health problems.
Q. What health risks are associated with public water?
Scientific studies are yet to find any credible relationship between fluoridated water and negative health issue besides fluorosis.
Q. Is a toothpaste that contains fluoride safe for my child?
Yes. If a child is susceptible to tooth decay, it is okay to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride to keep decay away. Use a rice-grain amount for children under the age of three, and a pea-size amount for children over the age of three. Children should be under supervision while brushing to ensure they do not swallow the toothpaste.
Q. How do I determine if my child is getting enough protection from fluoride?
A dentist will advise you on how susceptible your child is to tooth decay, and if he/she is getting enough fluoride. It is best to follow the dentist’s recommendation since too much fluoride can lead to fluorosis.
Have more questions about fluoride? Contact one of our dentists for a consultation.