For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.
In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a compound of the element fluorine, which can found throughout nature in water, soil, air and food. By adding fluoride into our drinking water, it can be absorbed easily into tooth’s enamel as it develops. As adults, fluoride is applied to enamel regularly by use of fluoride toothpastes or mouth rinses.
Why Is Fluoride Important To Teeth?
Fluoride is absorbed into structures, such as bones and teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to fractures and decay. A process in your body called “remineralization” uses fluoride to aid in repairing damage to the enamel of teeth caused by bacteria. The result of remineralization with fluoride is an enamel structure that is more resistant to attack by decay causing bacteria.
How Do I Get Fluoride?
Just drinking public water will provide a certain measure of fluoride protection. But for years, health professionals have endorsed the practice of supplementing our intake with certain dietary products, and topical fluorides in many toothpastes and some kinds of rinses. Specific dental varnishes and gels may also be applied directly to teeth to boost amount of fluoride available.
It is generally NOT safe to swallow toothpastes, rinses, or other products containing topical fluoride. In rare cases, prolonged overexposure to high concentrations of fluoride may result in a relatively harmless condition called fluorosis, which leaves dark enamel stains on teeth. The most common side effect to swallowing the small amount of toothpaste or rinse with fluoride used during daily brushing is upset stomach.
Please contact us with any concerns you may have about fluoride. We are happy to help you find the best balance of treatment for your oral care.
Please also visit http://www.ada.org/en/Home-MouthHealthy/az-topics/f/fluoride