Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of fluoride at some point. You know it’s good for your teeth, but what does it really do? Why is fluoride an important part of your overall oral health and dental hygiene?
In this article, we’re going to discuss what fluoride is and give you specific details on how it works and why it is important for your oral health.
What is Fluoride?
As mentioned in this article from Colgate, Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to rebuild the mineral crystals (enamel) that are lost during demineralization. In other words, fluoride helps to fight plaque and bacteria that can cause eroding of tooth enamel, which in turn can cause cavities.
Even though fluoride is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies, it’s important to supplement fluoride intake by drinking fluoridated water and using fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash.
What Products Contain Fluoride?
As mentioned above, most people get their intake of fluoride from three primary sources:
- Fluoridated tap water
- Toothpaste with fluoride (check the label on yours to make sure)
- Mouthwash with fluoride
Fluoride treatment is typically grouped into either topical fluoride treatments or systemic fluoride treatments. Topical fluoride treatments consist of toothpaste, mouthwash, or other oral hygiene products, while systemic fluoride is ingested through fluoridated water, supplements, or foods and beverages.
What’s interesting is that, while topical fluoride treatments are typically rinsed out (and thus do not enter into the body with the exception of the mouth), systemic fluoride finds its way into the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the entire body.
Fluoride is also found in saliva, which acts as a constant and natural “fluoride bath treatment” for your precious teeth!
What About the Controversy Regarding Fluoride in Drinking Water?
You may have heard some people say that the fluoride in drinking water is somehow bad for you or unsafe. Typically, these people claim that fluoridated water violates informed consent and that water fluoridation is not necessary.
While we certainly respect an individual and their right to have an opinion on the matter, we believe that fluoride in the drinking water is a good thing as it helps to protect against tooth decay and enamel breakdown.
In fact, over 60 years of research has shown that water fluoridation is not only safe, but is the single most important public safety measure to prevent tooth decay (source: https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/about-fluoride.html).
To put it simply, fluoridated water is a good thing!
Should I Be Taking Fluoride Supplements?
The fact that fluoride is available in tap water, toothpaste, mouthwash, as well as many foods means that most adults (if using the above sources for fluoride treatment) are getting enough daily fluoride.
In some cases, children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years of age are given a fluoride supplement. This is typically only done when a child is not drinking fluoridated water and he/she needs to get their necessary fluoride intake from another source.
For the majority of the population who drink tap water and use a fluoride toothpaste on a regular basis, fluoride supplements simply aren’t needed.
In Conclusion: Fluoride is Important for Healthy Teeth!
There is a reason that dentists encourage patients to drink fluoridated water and use a fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste (we also give fluoride rinses at all hygiene appointments). Fluoride is an essential mineral that helps to protect against cavities, ensuring that you have healthy teeth and a beautiful smile for years to come.
If you have any questions about fluoride treatment or if it has been a long time since you’ve seen a dentist, give our practice nearest you a call today!
We have two locations (Babylon Dental Care at Great South Bay and Babylon Dental Care at Gateway Plaza) and would love to meet you and your family.