What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is a naturally found in water and some other food products. Fluoride can be a valuable asset in a decay prevention strategy throughout life. Childhood is the most important time to be exposed to fluoride; it will be incorporated into the mineral structure of the tooth while the teeth are still developing and provide permanent strength for the outer surface of the tooth (enamel).
Once the tooth is formed and present in the mouth, fluoride can continue to be absorbed at the tooth surface and incorporated into the enamel for increased resistance to decay, but it happens at a much lower level and is more temporary, requiring multiple applications. Fluoride makes enamel stronger by making it more difficult for acid and sugar bugs (bacteria) to eat away at the tooth surface.
How is fluoride supplied?
Systemic fluoride is ingested and works its way into the blood stream to be incorporated to the inside of your teeth and also can be secreted in your saliva. Sources:
- Natural fluoride in drinking water
- Fluoride added to community drinking water
- Prescription fluoride supplements in drop or pill form
Topical fluoride is placed in the environment near the teeth. It works by being absorbed or available for ionic exchange as your tooth naturally cycles its mineral content. Sources:
- Office applications of fluoride varnish, foams or rinses
- Prescription strength fluoride gels or rinses.
- Over the counter fluoride rinses
- Fluoride toothpaste
Generations Dental is one of the only offices in the area equipped to analyze your home water samples right here in our office. We start with your homes water source and layer on additional fluoride strategies that are safe and work with your lifestyle and level of disease risk no matter what the age.
What is water fluoridation and why all the controversy?
As mentioned above, some fluoride is found to varying degrees in natural water sources. Community water fluoridation monitors the level of natural fluoride present in drinking water and adjusts this level to that which is safe and effective in preventing decay in children and adults. Anyone drinking the water from home, school or work will benefit from fluoridation’s cavity protection. If you live in an area supplied by well water, you can have your water tested right here to determine fluoride levels. We will provide guidance on the safe amount of fluoride that should be consumed to prevent tooth decay.
The controversy regarding fluoride stems from reports of toxicity. As with anything, you can have too much of a good thing. Some natural water sources are too high in fluoride and must be adjusted. Excess fluoride causes a condition called Fluorosis. Fluorosis is mainly a cosmetic concern which causes white or brown spots on newly erupting teeth. To avoid over fluoridation a child should only be introduced to fluoridated toothpaste once they are able to spit out the excess. Parents should also avoid using fluoridated water when making baby formula. As with medications, dosing of consumption of fluoride changes with age and size. If you have questions regarding safe home use of fluoride please ask us, that’s why we’re here.
How much is enough or too much?
As you can see the choices can be complex, the key is to have someone who can help you manage getting just the right amount of fluoride to be safe and effective.
U.S municipalities follow a standard for fluoridating community water systems usually in the range of 0.7-1.2 ppm (part per million). Consuming one liter of water per day with 1mg of fluoride equals 1.0ppm. Consuming twice that amount daily, 2 ppm, increase your risk for fluorosis a cosmetic darkening of the teeth. Toxic doses can start at levels four times the normal amount, 4ppm/day, usually starting with gastrointestinal distress and later kidney issues. Lethal doses for adults would be near 5 grams of fluoride or 5000 times the normal ingested daily dose.
Whether you’re concerned about too little fluoride in your life or too much, we can test your water samples and help you set things straight, right here at Generations Dental.
Prevention that works.
For more than 65 years, the best available scientific evidence has consistently indicated that community water fluoridation is safe and effective. Today, studies continue to prove that water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by at least 25%, even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has even proclaimed community water fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
At Generations Dental, we promote the use of community fluoridated water and will test water for those on a well system. We support the application of topical fluoride varnishes in a dental setting for high risk patients. We can customize a fluoride protocol for you and your family members based on their needs. We are happy to address any questions or concerns you may have regarding the use of fluoride. Fluoride is one of the best preventive tools we have to keep teeth healthy and cavity free.