While fluoride is a great chemical when it comes to your dental hygiene, many people believe it to be a harmful substance. And as with most issues, there’s some fiction sprinkled in with the fact.
Fluoride used in the appropriate amount is highly effective at protecting your mouth by strengthening your teeth and regulating acidity. And even if you’re unaware, you probably are using it every single day. So, what should you know about fluoride, and why has it sometimes received a bad rap? Here are some of the essentials.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is distributed widely throughout the surface of the planet. In fact, fluorine, from which it is derived, is the 13th most abundant element in the earth’s crust, and it’s naturally occurring in most water sources. Fluoride is everywhere.
Fluoride is most commonly used as a cavity prevention agent, but it does also have some industrial uses and as a biochemical reagent, such as in the production of fluorocarbons.
What Products Contain Fluoride?
Aside from being naturally occurring, fluoride can be found in all sorts of products. Fluoride is included in most toothpastes (non-fluoridated toothpaste is usually prominently labelled), mouthwashes, it is added to most public water sources, some dietary supplements, and foams and gels applied by your dentist as a fluoride treatment.
What Does Fluoride Do To Your Teeth?
When ingested, fluoride likes to collect in areas of the body already high in calcium – namely, your teeth. This concentrates in the growing teeth of children even before they erupt, and for adults, fluoride works to harden the enamel of adult teeth. This hardening of the enamel makes the teeth more resistant to decay.
As a second benefit, fluoride also helps maintain balance in your mouth during the demineralization/remineralization process. The saliva your mouth produces is acidic, and dissolves some of the calcium beneath the surface of a tooth. Fluoride works to replenish that calcium during the process, helping to prevent dissolution.
The intentional application of fluoride to oral hygiene is widely considered to be one of the more significant health progressions of modern society. According to the American Dental Association, studies have found that dental decay is reduced by 20 to 40 percent in those who have had fluoride added to their drinking water.
Why are Some People Worried About Safety?
There have been myths circulating about fluoride use ever since it was first added to public water in the 1940s. Claims have been made that fluoride causes cancer, Down syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, triggers allergies, causes kidney disorders, and even lowers a population’s intelligence level. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no scientific evidence has ever connected fluoride with these claims.
Fluoride can have negative effects if overused, however – fluorosis is a cosmetic condition causing streaking or discoloration in the teeth, that often occurs when children swallow fluoridated toothpaste – which is why it is important to supervise young people’s brushing sessions.« Back to blog