You may have heard your dentist mention fluoride or fluoride treatments but wondered about the benefits or drawbacks. Dentists have used fluoride to strengthen teeth for over a century. However, some people voice concerns about this mineral and possible health concerns. If you want to know more about fluoride, then here is more information about it.
What Does Fluoride Do?
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens your teeth. Specifically, it assists with reducing tooth de-mineralization and increasing re-mineralization. It also assists with mouth bacteria control. Fluoride is added to the water supply of many large cities and occurs naturally in well water. It is present in most kinds of toothpaste but check the label. Many natural toothpastes do not have fluoride. Mouthwashes and supplements with added fluoride are also available.
Where Does Fluoride Come From?
Fluoride is very common and occurs naturally in rocks and soil. Natural water sources contain some fluoride from the breakdown of material as water flows over rocks and through the soil. Many common foods also contain fluoride. However, natural sources have very low levels. You would have to consume a large amount to have any significant effect on your teeth.
What Are Fluoride's Benefits?
Fluoride is a proven reducer of severe cavities and tooth decay. It also helps reverse tooth decay in the early stages. Fluoride is especially helpful for young children, as it strengthens their developing teeth. Its bacteria-reducing properties are also beneficial for people with gum disease.
Fluoride can also be helpful for people with chronic dry mouth. Saliva assists with breaking down food particles and keeping the mouth clean. When you don't have enough saliva, the bacteria have a bigger chance of destroying your teeth.
What Are Fluoride's Drawbacks?
Many people express concern about added chemicals to their water and toothpaste. One of the concerns is that they have little or no control over the amount of fluoride they are exposed to. Some people claim that fluoride is not healthy and could cause problems.
You can experience side effects from too much fluoride. But, most people aren't exposed to enough to cause them trouble. Problems usually arise when people supplement too much fluoride. For example, you could be over-exposed if you take too many fluoride supplements in addition to toothpaste and water. People who are sensitive to fluoride could also have problems.
Fluoride has a proven track record of reducing dental problems. However, talk to your dentist first about at-home fluoride treatments. These treatments are best performed under a dentist's supervision. If you have questions about fluoride and its uses, your dentist can give you more information.