Fluoride is a chemical compound that is proven to be beneficial to teeth. It strengthens enamel and prevents decay. As a result, there are many over-the-counter toothpastes and mouthwashes containing fluoride. However, those who are at an extra high risk for cavities may benefit from professional fluoride treatments in addition to daily doses. Thus, there has been a long standing dichotomy on the issue of fluoride use for dental care and it being added to our water supply. What exactly is it used for? How does fluoride benefit my dental health? Does its treatment outweigh the danger of using it? Let us attempt to examine this closely.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a derivative of FLUORINE, a natural mineral found in soil, food and water. The synthetic version of fluoride is what is used in our oral care products and water supplies. It has been added to water over 70 years ago to assure dental health in children and adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities (also called tooth decay) by about 25%,(…) cavities still one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood”. So the concept of community water fluoridation was brought in to ensure fluoride was accessible to general public health in disadvantaged communities.
This, however, also raised the concern of many regarding side effects caused by the mineral. For instance, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reported of how a “possible relationship between fluoridated water and cancer risk has been debated for years.” “More recent studies, however, have yet to find an immediate link between fluoride and cancer.” This to say, nothing comes without the element of scrutiny.
Still, How Does Fluoride Benefit My Dental Health?
Fair question. Well to start, it is the most cost effective way to protect teeth from acidity such as plaque bacteria and sugar from attacking its enamel. It also prevents excessive demineralization without properly restoring your teeth’s natural mineral.
Keep in mind that getting fluoride through water is not sufficient. According to WebMD.com, there are other forms of fluoride available for proper oral cleaning. We know of course of toothpaste and mouthwash containing fluoride, that we apply directly to our teeth for daily care. But did you know that there are fluoride supplements in liquid or tablet form? These are to be prescribed by a medical professional, for they are mainly intended for people living in areas with fluoride-deficient drinking water. It also reports that fluoride is treatment benefiting those suffering chronic mouth conditions such as dryness and gum disease.
So should you be concerned? Well, like anything, knowledge is key. Consult with your dentist to learn more about safe dosage information and proper intake. Until then, take care of your pearly whites and focus on your oral hygiene!