Fluoride is one of those medical topics that can be hotly disputed. There are those who say it’s absolutely terrible for you and recommend avoiding it; however, the truth is fluoride is great for oral health. The benefits of fluoride are why as a parent you’ve likely had both your pediatrician and dentists offer fluoride treatments for your children and recommend the use of it in toothpaste. Our hope is to provide facts about fluoride that will provide better understanding for those who might be searching for information.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally released by rocks into the soil, water, and air. While most water contains some natural fluoride, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the natural amount is not typically enough to prevent tooth decay.
Where Might I Find Fluoride?
Fluoride, while a naturally occurring mineral, is also produced and added to a variety of products such as water, toothpaste, mouthwashes, and dental products.
What Are the Benefits of Fluoride?
The American Dental Association has long been an advocate of fluoride treatments, including adding it to municipal water supplies. This is because fluoride in water is one of the most efficient ways to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases – tooth decay. In fact, studies show that in both children and adults, fluoridation prevents up to 25% of tooth decay. Because of this the CDC has named it one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
In over 70 years of research on the topic, scientists have found that this fluoridating water treatment is both safe and effective.
The benefits of fluoride can be particularly great in children. A scientific study published in 2015 showed that water fluoridation resulted in a 35% decrease in decayed, missing and filled baby teeth, and a 26% decrease in decayed, missing, and filled permanent teeth. There was also a 15% increase in children who had no decay in their baby teeth, and 14% increase in children who had no decay in their permanent teeth.
How Does It Work?
Fluoride can protect teeth from demineralization, which is caused by acid in the mouth attacking the enamel coating of the teeth. In addition, it can bind to damaged teeth and help the demineralized areas by strengthening the enamel, which is a process called remineralization.
Fluoride treatments are offered in the dental setting through a variety of means. In children over the age of 8 and in adults, a fluoride rinse can be given for those who are experiencing tooth decay. For children under 8, a varnish or foam can be applied to the teeth every 6 months during regular dental visits to help prevent decay.
In addition to these in office treatments, fluoride is also available in many toothpastes and mouthwashes on the market and is recommend for use to help prevent cavities and tooth decay.
Fluoride treatments can benefit both children and adults alike when it comes to decreasing cavities, tooth decay, and sensitivity. It’s ready availability in both water supplies and products on the market can be particularly beneficial for those who have poor dental hygiene routines, those who have a history of tooth decay or cavities, and for those who have little or no access to a dentist.
If you have questions or concerns about fluoride or fluoride treatments for you or your children we recommend talking to us about the benefits and how they might help you in maintaining good overall dental health.