You have probably heard about fluoride for years – but you may not have a full understanding of it. Chances are, you may have even read some bad stuff about fluoride. The truth about fluoride is simple – yes, it helps protect your teeth from decay, and yes, when ingested in large quantities, it can be harmful. So, how does fluoride work, and how can you make sure you are getting enough fluoride, but not too much? Here are some fluoride facts to put your mind at ease.
- Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral. It is found in various foods and water. When you eat, acids form in your mouth, and these acids can damage the enamel of your teeth. Fluoride helps by adding mineral deposits back to the enamel layer, giving your teeth added protection from decay.
- Mouthwashes and toothpastes often contain fluoride. This allows you to apply minimal amounts of fluoride to your teeth every day to strengthen the enamel layer and protect your teeth. Your dentist may even apply higher doses of fluoride in a gel or foam form when you have a checkup.
- In certain instances, your dentist or doctor may decide that you need a fluoride supplement. These are available in liquid or tablet form, and only by prescription. The majority of people do not need a supplement – between food, water, toothpaste, and dental visits, they get plenty of fluoride.
- People that may need an extra boost of fluoride include those that have gum disease, frequent cavities, crowns and braces, and dry mouth conditions. All of these factors can increase the chances for tooth decay – additional fluoride can help keep the decay at bay.
- Fluoride is important for children between the ages of about 6 months to 16 years. During this time, the teeth are growing, including the permanent teeth. Fluoride helps ensure that the teeth are protected right from the start.
- Fluoride is also important for adults – so, don’t toss out your fluoride toothpaste just because you’re no longer a teen. Fluoride keeps your teeth strong and protected from tooth decay – and tooth decay doesn’t care how young or old you might be.
- Studies have indicated that too much fluoride can be a bad thing. You can contact your local utility service to find out how much fluoride is in your town’s tap water. If you are worried about consumption of fluoride through drinking water, you can opt for bottled water with lower fluoride levels or even install a reverse-osmosis filter to help remove fluoride from the water in your home.
While there may be risks from too much fluoride, there are numerous dental benefits from this mineral. Your teeth need this additional boost of protection from tooth decay just as much as they need regular brushing and flossing. Don’t be afraid to discuss your fluoride fears with your dentist or doctor. Together, you can determine if you have a healthy amount of fluoride in your life or if you may need to make some changes.