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Understanding Fluoride

Fluoride is a substance that has unique health benefits in low doses, and is found in dental products in the US. Though there are minor side effects that may occur with higher levels of fluoride, we do not use or consume enough fluoride in our daily lives to cause any concern.

In dentistry, it has been shown that low amounts of fluoride help strengthen developing teeth and help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is especially important in oral care for kids, ensuring that their teeth are resilient to cavities. Today, we’ll explore the benefits of this natural substance.

 

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in groundwater and food and is commonly found where there are large granite deposits or volcanic rocks. In humans, fluoride works alongside calcium and phosphate, to re-mineralize the enamel of our teeth, repairing the damage of acids, sugars and bacteria that strip the tooth’s enamel layer of its mineralized protection.

 

Fluoride as a Helper

When fluoride is introduced to children’s teeth, it helps to naturally strengthen and protect them from decay. Fluoride reinforces children’s teeth, especially when used between the ages of 6 months and 16 years. Fluoride has special benefits when used by children under the age of six, incorporating itself into the development of children’s permanent teeth and protecting the teeth from acid-based decay.

Fluoride’s dental benefits extend to the health of a growing skeletal system. The presence of low levels of fluoride in tap water has been linked to a lower rate of broken bones and better bone strength and health. In moderation, fluoride has great benefits to health and skeletal resiliency.

Monitoring Fluoride Intake

Fluoride is a component in toothpaste and mouthwash and is used in protective gels and supplements because it is a proven asset to dental care and oral health. It is also a monitored additive to much American tap water, used in small amounts as a public health service.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the optimal fluoride level in drinking water to prevent tooth decay is 0.7 milligrams per liter of water (as opposed to the 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams per liter, recommended in 1962). This recommendation, which came into effect in 2015, was made because there is now more accessibility to fluoride in dental products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. As a result, a lower level of fluoride is needed in water.

This new recommendation of 0.7 milligrams per liter helps prevent the side effects of excessive fluoride. At levels above 1 milligram per liter, the side effect of dental fluorosis – a mild discoloration of the teeth – could develop. However, this is not a major concern for Americans, as fluoride levels are closely monitored.

There is no fluoride in Portland drinking water, making it that much more important to see your dentist for professional fluoride application.

Fluoride Safety

It is safe to use topical fluoridated products at home and as part of daily dental care.  It is important to always use fluoride products according to their guidelines, and to consult with your dentist. Fluoridated products are meant for topical application on the teeth. For fluoridated toothpaste, infants under the age of three should use a “smear” (the size of a grain of rice), and children ages 3-6 should use a pea sized amount.

Fluoride occurs naturally and can be used to improve our health when used in the correct amounts. The strength it gives to growing teeth and maintaining dental health makes it a powerful, safe component of modern dentistry. For more information, contact us at Fox Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics!

Disclaimer

This blog provides general information and discussion about dentistry and other health related topics. The opinions and content expressed on this blog are for general conversational purposes only and should not be interpreted as dental or medical advice pertaining to any particular individual. If the reader or any other person has a dental or medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed dentist, physician or other health care provider.

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