All You Need to Know About Flouride

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in the soil, ocean, lakes, seas, and other water bodies. Some foods also contain fluoride. Community water fluoridation helps reduce tooth decay. Researchers in the 1930s found that people who grew drinking fluoridated water experienced fewer cavities when compared to people living in regions without fluoridated water. Ever since, studies have shown that fluoride in a community's water supply significantly decreases tooth decay. The World Health Organization, The American Dental Association, and the American Medical Association, are some of the organizations that have supported the use of fluoride in water due to its effect in fighting tooth decay.

How Fluoride Works

Fluoride concentrates in the developing bones and teeth of children. It helps to harden the enamel of adult and baby teeth before they begin to emerge. Fluoride is also hardens the enamel on an adult's permanent teeth.

Fluoride works during the natural remineralization and demineralization processes in your mouth.

After eating, your saliva has acids that promote demineralization- dissolving of phosphorus and calcium under your tooth's surface. When saliva is less acidic, remineralization occurs- this is the replenishing of phosphorus and calcium to ensure your teeth are hard. When there is fluoride in your mouth during remineralization, the minerals that are deposited are harder than normal, helping to strengthen teeth and prevent dissolution in the next demineralization phase.

How To Know Whether You Are Getting Sufficient Fluoride

Drinking fluoridated water and brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste is sufficient for children and adults with healthy teeth at a low risk of decay. However, if your community's water is not fluoridated and has insufficient natural fluoride, your pediatrician or dentist may recommend fluoride tablets or drops to be consumed daily. You should consult a pediatrician or dentist to determine the amount of fluoride that is suitable for your family.

If you get water from a public supply of water, call the local water district to determine if it is fluoridated and whether the water is derived from a private water source. Alternatively, you can ask an independent environmental testing firm that deals with water testing services to analyze it.

What Are the Risks of Excess Fluoride?

Excess fluoride may be derived from water or foods with high levels of fluoride. The main result of consuming excess fluoride is dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is when tiny white specks or streaks appear in one's enamel. In severe cases, the tooth will develop brown markings and have more evident discoloration.

Skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease resulting from too much fluoride. It causes damage to one's joints and bones, as well as intense pain. High fluorine concentrations result in less elastic bones, a common cause of fractures. Impaired joint mobility may occur when the bones become thick and bone tissue accumulates.

Fluoride is an essential mineral for bone and enamel strength. This vital component occurs naturally in water and can also be found in foods. While fluoride is necessary for preventing cavities, too much of it can contribute to complications such as dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis. It is recommended that you consult your dentist for the right amount of fluoride for you and your family.