Fluoride: Facts and Fiction
Is Fluoride Good For Your Teeth?
The short answer is yes. The benefits of using fluoride for teeth protection far outnumber any potential risks and people of all ages should regularly use toothpaste with fluoride to guard against tooth decay.
How Fluoride Helps Teeth
Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in many foods and water. People can use fluoride to prevent tooth decay as the mineral increases the tooth enamel’s resistance towards acid from plaque and bacteria. It can also reverse the signs of early decay by rebuilding the tooth’s enamel if caught early.
It’s especially important to get enough fluoride for teeth during the growing phase while permanent teeth are coming in. Kids from six months to 16 years benefit the most from exposure to fluoride in toothpaste, water and other sources. However, adults can also benefit from continued exposure to fluoride to prevent tooth decay and strengthen tooth enamel.
There are certain groups of people who may require higher levels of fluoride to prevent tooth decay due to health conditions. People with dry mouth are more prone to tooth decay as the lack of saliva increases the amount of food particles that linger in the mouth and makes it more difficult to neutralize the acids that attack the tooth enamel. Those with gum disease are also at a higher risk due to a greater surface area of the tooth and tooth roots being exposed to bacteria.
How Fluoride Works
While fluoride occurs naturally in food and water, many people need an additional source of fluoride. Using fluoride to prevent tooth decay is made easy by the mineral’s addition to mouth rinses and toothpastes. You can find an over-the-counter toothpaste with fluoride or ask your dentist to prescribe a toothpaste with a higher dose. If you don’t want to rely on fluoride in toothpaste to get your recommended amount, your dentist can also apply fluoride directly to your teeth in the form of gel, foam or varnish as part of their general dentistry services. This method contains greater levels of the mineral than you will find in toothpaste with fluoride.
Fluoride is safe to use in small doses but it can be toxic if too much is consumed. For this reason, children under the age of six should be closely supervised when using toothpaste with fluoride and just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used as young children are more likely to swallow the toothpaste.