What You Need To Know About Fluoride

A boy opening his mouth receiving  fluoride treatment from the dentist
Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is a mineral, naturally found in soil, water, and plants. It plays an essential role in the mineralization of teeth (and bones). This mineralization process is important for keeping bones and teeth strong, and most of the this taken in by a person is stored in their bones and teeth. Because of the role it plays in mineralization, it is an essential tool in preventing dental cavities (or dental caries).

How Does It Work?

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria build up on the teeth and eat away the enamel or protective coating of the tooth. It can help to prevent cavities by helping to repair the tooth enamel. Interestingly, fluoride also has some ability to prevent the growth of bacteria, and, along with a healthy brushing routine, can help prevent tooth decay. 

Dental cavities are one of the highest occurring chronic conditions seen in US children, so it can be a valuable tool in preventing cavities and maintaining a healthy mouth. 

How do we Get It?

People take in it from a variety of sources. For example, a steeped cup of tea can contain as much as 1.5 mg of fluoride per serving, but there are trace amounts of fluoride found in many vegetables and plant-based foods. Community measures were started in the 1970s to make sure children and adults get enough fluoride. This includes adding fluoride to public drinking water (like in most areas of the United States), salt, or milk.

Many dental products also contain fluoride, including toothpaste, and mouthwash. It has been shown to be more effective in its role in preventing dental cavities when it is applied directly to teeth, and the amount of fluoride actually ingested in this form is low. This makes fluoridated toothpaste a helpful tool in preventing cavities.

In children who are older than six, predisposed to cavities, and drinking only bottled water, this supplementation is also possible. These supplements come as drops or tablets, and you should talk to your dentist if you are concerned about your child not getting enough fluoride.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Too much of it to children with teeth that are still developing can lead to fluorosis, or spots of discoloration on teeth. This can eventually lead to the pitting of tooth enamel. The upper intake recommendation for fluoride in children 4 to 8 years old is 2.2mg per day, though any concerns regarding fluoride intake can be answered by your dentist. We at Distinctive Dental Care are always here to answer questions about you and your child’s dental care. Please contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

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