March 8, 2021
Your teeth are designed to last for a lifetime; however, the biggest threat to their longevity is tooth decay. Although cavities are preventable, at least 92% of adults have had at least one in a permanent tooth. Brushing and flossing are crucial to keeping dental caries at bay, but there is another important factor that’s necessary for a healthy smile. The effects of fluoride on teeth can help strengthen your enamel to prevent cavities, but is it safe? You’ve likely heard a lot of rumors, but here are the facts you need to make the best decision for your smile.
Impact of Fluoride on Dental Health
Fluoride is often referred to as “nature’s cavity fighter.” It’s naturally found in water, soil, and foods, but it is also synthetically produced for use in drinking water and various oral hygiene products, like toothpastes and mouthwashes. It’s proven to protect the teeth by preventing demineralization while also being able to reverse early stages of decay through remineralization.
Because of fluoride’s benefits, it is added to many public water sources. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends drinking tap water to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride bonds to enamel, which is largely comprised of calcium, phosphorus, hydrogen, and oxygen, which make a crystal compound called hydroxylapatite. Fluoride replaces the hydroxyl molecule to make teeth more resistant to cavity-causing bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking fluoridated water can reduce cavities by as much as 25%.
Safety Considerations for Fluoride
It’s no secret there has been plenty of controversy surrounding the use of fluoride in recent years, but you have nothing to fear. It’s true high levels of fluoride can lead to fluorosis, which is purely a cosmetic imperfection. There is minimal risk of fluorosis because of strict standards regarding the amount of fluoride present in public water systems.
Protecting Your Teeth with Fluoride
Despite the arguments against fluoride, your dentist recommends it as a safe and effective solution to safeguard your enamel against cavities. It’s best to use fluoride toothpaste that’s earned the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance at least twice daily to keep your enamel strong. Your dentist also suggests drinking tap water over other beverages whenever possible. Besides changes at home, ask your dentist about the benefits of a fluoride treatment during your next cleaning and checkup. A varnish is applied to your teeth using a noninvasive procedure to prevent and reverse the early stages of decay.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the advantages or safety of fluoride, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist. They’ll provide you with the information you need to make educated decisions for your dental health.
About Dr. Song Ahn
Dr. Ahn earned his dental degree at the University of Texas School of Dentistry and completed additional training in many specialties, like implant dentistry, orthodontics, and cosmetic dentistry. He focuses on prevention to help his patients maintain healthy, beautiful smiles. If you’re interested in giving your smile the protection of fluoride, contact our office today.
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