Recent debate over the use of fluoride has sparked several studies that show fluoride’s effect on teeth and reveal whether it’s safe to use or not. While many individuals fail to see the benefits of fluoride, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), scientific evidence proves that small doses of fluoride can improve dental health.
How does fluoride help?
Through a process called demineralization, dental enamel deteriorates over time. However, through the opposite process, remineralization, teeth use calcium, fluoride, and phosphate as building blocks to resupply the minerals lost. Small amounts of fluoride regularly applied to teeth help the natural remineralization process that builds strong teeth and prevents the onset of cavities.
What are the benefits of fluoride?
Patients who have fluoride treatment at a young age lower their risk for cavities. Applying fluoride topically or ingesting fluoride through regular drinking water promotes remineralization, in turn bolstering teeth and preventing bacteria from permanently damaging enamel and increasing overall resistance to decay.
Patients need to be careful not to ingest too much fluoride for risk of reaching levels of toxicity. Toxic levels of fluoride are based on weight. Side effects of ingesting toxic levels of fluoride may cause fluorosis, excessive remineralization that causes white spots on teeth. Talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments before you start.
Applying fluoride to teeth
You can use fluoride in two ways: through ingestion or topical application.
Young patients can ingest small amounts of fluoride, usually through water or food, to allow it to enter the bloodstream. Patients begin to experience lower fluoride absorption after the age of 16. Typically, dentists prescribe fluoride supplements to patients with a higher risk of developing cavities.
Patients can also apply it while using toothpaste containing fluoride or may use other products that containing it, such as mouthwash or your dentist can apply a fluoride varnish.
Find out more
For more information about the positive effects fluoride has on teeth, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason Lehman or Dr. Kelly Waggener, give us a call or come to our dental office in Santa Rosa.