Lately I have noted more people than usual turning down routine fluoride treatment for their children or choosing to use non-fluoridated toothpastes for themselves. Today I would like to discuss the importance of fluoride in oral health and debunk the myths associated with any harmful effects from fluoride.
In order to better understand what health concerns my patients have in regards to fluoride I did a google search and the list of health problems that shows up associated with fluoride is enormous. However, it is important to remember that not everything you read on the internet is true and and many sources lack properly performed research to back up their claims! I know it can be hard to try to determine what information you read is true versus false but I can assure you that the 125 reputable organizations around the world including the World Health Organization, American Dental Association, Center for Disease Control and American Cancer Society would not support the use of fluoride if it was harming people.
What problems can fluoride cause?
Anything in too much quantity can lead to health problems. Even oxygen! Fluoride is no different. Two valid issues fluoride CAN cause are fluoride toxicity and fluorosis. Fluoride toxicity only occurs if a human ingests a large amount of fluoride from swallowing a large amount of toothpaste. (Much more than you should be putting on your toothbrush or from what you receive in your tap water.) Fluorosis is a problem caused in children on the developing teeth. It usually leads to chalky white streaks on the teeth. This typically occurs from children swallowing their toothpaste instead of spitting it out which is why adult supervision during brushing is extremely important. Fluoride from brushing the teeth or a fluoride varnish applied at the dental office cannot cause fluorosis or as it can only occur on teeth developing below the gums.
What are the benefits of fluoride?
Did you know that dental caries is actually the most common chronic childhood disease? The main reason we recommend fluoride is it significantly reduces tooth decay significantly in children, but also in adults! Fluoridation of community water alone has shown to reduce tooth decay 20-40%. Fluoride in the water makes a big difference but studies have found that use of topical fluoride in toothpaste and fluoride treatments at the dental office also have a huge impact on dental decay.
How does fluoride work?
Every time you eat something sugary or acidic the outside layer of your tooth (the enamel) starts to break down and soften by leaching the minerals from the tooth. Over time this eventually leads to cavities. However, fluoride can be deposited onto these softened areas to remineralize them, repairing the tooth. While simply applying fluoride to large cavities will not cure them, very small cavities that are only in the enamel of tooth can actually be reversed completely so they never need fillings!
Flouride Treatments in Elma, NY
I hope this helps to explain the benefits of fluoride and why we always recommend young children especially receive topical fluoride varnishes at their dental cleaning appointments. If you have any further questions on this topic please don’t hesitate to call our Elma, NY dental office and ask!