The Truth About Fluoride: Facts And Myths

Fluoride Facts And Myths

Maintaining the dentist-recommended standards of oral hygiene is an important part of maintaining good dental health. However, most people may not understand that brushing and flossing alone isn’t enough.

However, once they do know, they’ll be willing to learn to treat their pearly whites with fluoride, as it has been shown to be an effective way for preventing cavities by strengthening enamel against acids used during daily activities like smoking, drinking hot tea, coffee, juices, etc. 

Information spreads quickly. This goes for both credible information and, unfortunately, for misinformation. Unfortunately, fluoride, an important part of dental health, is at the center of many misunderstandings. It’s common to see incorrect information regarding fluoride on the internet as many people are concerned about its use and potential effects. This is why we’ve created a list of fluoride facts and myths to separate the falsehoods from the truth about fluoride. 

What Is Fluoride?

The mineral fluoride is a naturally occurring substance with many uses, including strengthening tooth enamel. For children who are under seven years old and still in the development stages of their teeth structure, it can protect against acids that would otherwise dissolve away any protective layers on top of softer tissues like dentin or pulp tissue inside our mouths. 

That thin layer will stop anything acidic from being able to acidify them too much before they have immersed themselves deeper into adulthood when these protections kick in full force so later down the line people may find fewer cavities throughout life thanks largely due to this mineral. Fluoride is naturally occurring and present in:

  • Air
  • Soil
  • Teeth
  • Rocks
  • Bones
  • Groundwater
  • Standing water

The best way to fight misinformation is with research-supported facts and knowledge. Before we get to the myths and facts about fluoride, it’s important to know what exactly fluoride is and how it is commonly used. 

How Does Flouride Protect My Teeth? 

We all know that too much sugar can be bad for you, but did you also think about the effect it has on your teeth? Bacteria in plaque feed off of minerals from dental enamel and weaken its structure by leaching away precious nutrients. The bacteria that are in your mouth can be destructive, but the good thing is you have natural ways of fighting back. 

When plaque builds up around and on top of teeth it’s putting itself right into contact with enamel which starts to weaken because all this harmful material eats away at its strength over time. That might sound scary because we know how important strong tooth enamel is for keeping us healthy! 

Often, people don’t realize they are not brushing their teeth and flossing correctly or don’t pay enough attention. As things we consume through food or drink enter our mouths all day long, the body’s natural teeth cleaning process can become ineffective if plaque builds up on and around your pearly whites. 

Demineralization 

When this destructive bacteria becomes in direct contact with our teeth, acids start to slowly eat away at the enamel by eliminating vital minerals that are there to protect the layers of your teeth. This process is called demineralization. 

Essentially, the foundation of one’s teeth becomes weakened, leaving you vulnerable to dental problems such as sensitivity, toothaches, cavities, etc. Luckily, fluoride treatments early on can help add protection to your teeth.

Remineralization

To combat demineralization, fluoride helps to protect teeth through the process of remineralization. This helps to block some of the most harmful enzymes found in plaque and prevents them from producing the acid that weakens tooth enamel. In other words, your weakened enamel is replaced with new and stronger minerals, which helps make your teeth less susceptible to tooth decay. 

There have been studies that show how fluoride may play a further role in the development of children’s teeth. In kids who consumed what is considered an adequate amount of fluoride, are less likely to develop deep fissures in their teeth. The shallower grooves mean that they’re less susceptible to food particles getting stuck in their teeth. This can result in fewer cavities and a healthier mouth overall. 

Along with flossing and brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice per day, it is recommended to get regular dental checkups to ensure that your teeth are protected and in tip-top shape. 

How Is Fluoride Used?

Did you know that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the Earth’s surface? It can be in solid, liquid, and gas forms. When applied to teeth at small doses over time it has been proven by dentists as an excellent way of preventing cavities among other things. Fluoride is mainly used in dental hygiene products, such as mouthwash, toothpaste, or supplements. Further, fluoride is found in commonly used products such as:

  • Pesticides
  • Cleaning products
  • Medical imaging scans
  • Aluminum, Teflon, and steel products

Despite how common fluoride is in our lives, many people are unaware of its many uses. The truth about fluoride, in short, is that it benefits adults and children in many ways. 

If you have been to your dentist lately for a routine dental checkup, then chances are they’ve applied some fluoride in the form of flavored foam during the visit to ensure their patients maintain healthy teeth through preventive care practices.

The Benefits Of Fluoride

As a major public health initiative, many governments allow the fluoridation of water supplies. The introduction of fluoride into water supplies was the result of many research studies. These studies showed a significant decrease in tooth decay among adults and children who consume safe amounts of fluoride.

Fluoride’s effective use in dental health is due to its ability to:

  • Rebuild or remineralize weak tooth enamel
  • Reverse or slow down tooth decay
  • Prevent harmful oral bacteria growth
  • Reduce the amount and severity of cavities

The fluoride added to public water is the very same fluoride in toothpaste and certain mouthwashes. Many dentists use fluoride as a means of strengthening their patients’ tooth enamel. Overall, fluoride is a safe and effective nutrient that helps keep your smile healthy. 

How Much Fluoride Should I Be Consuming?

All water contains some fluoride, even natural spring water that has never been purified. 

The recommended dietary allowance for fluoride varies depending on your age, gender, and whether or not drinking water has it already. 

In general, adults who are 14 years old or older should be consuming 3 milligrams each day while males of that same range need 4 mg per day respectively. Children four to 13-year-olds require 1-2mgs daily intake with infants under five taking no more than half a milligram. 

To compare how much fluoride is in your daily diet, consider that one conservative use of fluoridated toothpaste can contain between one and three milligrams. The recommended amounts above concern internal consumption; when you use a tube of toothpaste, it’s important to be mindful not only of what kind (brand) but also how much time has passed since brushing so as not to exceed this maximum dosage for each day or week.

Fluoride Facts And Myths 

There are a lot of misconceptions about the use of fluoride and its effects on the human body. To clear things up, here are a few common fluoride facts and myths. 

Health-Related Fluoride Facts And Myths

Fluoride Myth: Fluoride is unnatural and therefore should not be consumed.

Fluoride Fact: Fluoride is actually found in many natural water supplies. When rocks come in contact with groundwater or standing water, fluoride seeps into the water. 

The addition of fluoride into public drinking water does not mean the water did not contain fluoride previously. Water fluoridation simply raises water fluoride levels to levels that are effective for aiding oral health.

Fluoride Myth: Fluoride is toxic and causes health issues such as cancer.

Fluoride Fact: Anything is toxic in large amounts, so there is some truth to this fluoride myth. The amount of fluoride needed to harm a person is not present in water supplies because the concentration is so low. 

Cancer and other serious diseases are not caused by consuming fluoride. It is possible for a condition called dental fluorosis to develop. However, this condition is uncommon and usually only found in children. Additionally, aside from white spots on teeth, there are no harmful side effects of dental fluorosis. This condition is usually caused by swallowing large amounts of toothpaste.

Fluoride Myth: Water Fluoridation is not necessary because fluoride is in toothpaste.

Fluoride Fact: Not all toothpaste has fluoride. For the ones that do, the amount of fluoride these kinds of toothpaste contain is not enough on its own to prevent tooth decay. The fluoride in a drinking water works together with fluoride in oral hygiene products to provide enough of the nutrient to combat loss of tooth enamel.

Community-Related Fluoride Facts And Myths

Fluoride Myth: Putting Fluoride in the water is highly expensive for communities.

Fluoride Fact: The fluoridation process is not a particularly expensive one. Adding fluoride to water sources saves money. Less tooth decay in the general population leads to reduced health care system costs. 

Individually, families also pay less, on average, for dental issues due to water fluoridation. Moreover, since consuming water with fluoride reduces the likelihood of tooth decay and cavities, families are less likely to need to see a dentist outside of regular checkups.

Fluoride Myth: Fluoride is a medication forced on all citizens.

Fluoride Fact: First, fluoride is not a medication. It’s a naturally occurring mineral. 

Fluoride is also not present in every city’s water because the addition of fluoride into drinking water is up to each city to decide. However, if you’re curious whether or not your water has fluoride, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) provides a tool to check. The exact concentration of fluoride in your community’s water—along with other water-related information—is available through this tool. 

How Gardens Family Dentistry Can Help Combat Tooth Decay With Fluoride 

Equipped with the facts about fluoride, you can rest assured that the nutrient found in water is safe and effective at preventing tooth decay. Without a proper oral hygiene routine and regular dental checkups, your teeth are still at risk of decay. 

However, if you’re still unsure about fluoride, how it can help protect your teeth, and your appropriate dosage for consumption, make an appointment with Gardens Family Dentistry in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. We know what treatment is best for each of our patient’s unique dental needs. 

Also, if you’re concerned about the health of your teeth, or in need of a regular check-up, cleaning, or other procedures contact us today. 

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/faqs/about-fluoride.html 

https://www.123dentist.com/all-about-fluoride/