Why Dentists Love Fluoride, And You Should Too
Fluoride. Do we need it? We take you through some important facts about fluoride and the reasons why your dentist in Maroubra recommends it as part of a good oral care routine.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in fresh and seawater, plants (including some foods), soil, rocks and air. While proven to be an important component of dental health, levels found naturally are insufficient. Therefore, it is also added to our water supplies, toothpaste, and other oral care products.
The mineral properties of fluoride prevent tooth decay in children and adults. Fluoride helps strengthen the tooth’s enamel coating; it reduces the first stage of tooth decay, called demineralisation. Fluoride helps rebuild the demineralised areas of the tooth to strengthen it. Fluoride also disrupts plaque, thus preventing cavities and gum disease. Dental care Maroubra recommends ensuring regular exposure to fluoride from a young age.
Fluoride v Fluoride-free Toothpastes
Dentists in Maroubra recommend toothpaste with added fluoride. Most traditional toothpaste brands include fluoride. In recent times, there has been a shift towards natural products. Many “natural toothpastes” on the market do not include fluoride as an ingredient (despite being a naturally occurring mineral). There have been claims that fluoride in our water and toothpaste can lead to thyroid and other medical conditions, however, there is no evidence to support such claims.
Fluoride toothpaste helps prevent dental decay. It freshens breath, and specialised products can also keep teeth looking white and reduce tooth sensitivity. With the correct brushing technique, fluoride-free toothpaste will still work to loosen debris and clean the surface of the tooth. It will not, however, aid in demineralisation or the prevention of tooth decay in the same way as a fluoride toothpaste.
The only real risk of excessive fluoride consumption is fluorosis, which is easily preventable.
What is fluorosis?
Fluorosis is staining as a result of excessive fluoride exposure at an early age. It is merely cosmetic and does not affect the tooth’s integrity or function. It appears as mottled, flecked or lined white marks. Fluorosis is formed in the early years of a person’s life. Once a tooth is fully formed, it can no longer develop fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis is preventable. Children under 18 months should brush their teeth without any toothpaste. From 18 months, introduce a low-fluoride toothpaste, specifically designed for toddlers. Teach children not to suck their toothbrush and to spit and rinse rather than swallow toothpaste, as this significantly reduces excess fluoride absorption.
Fluoride in Water
Australia has added fluoride to its water supply since the ’60s. The process is endorsed by the Australian Medical Association and many other health organisations for its effectiveness in reducing tooth decay and improving overall community oral health. It benefits the entire community by reducing the overall strain on the public health system, the need for individuals to take sick leave, and low socioeconomic groups who may have reduced access to or money for dental treatments. Filtered tap water, other than osmosis filters, preserve fluoride’s presence in the water. Dental Avenue Maroubra, along with the Australian Dental Association, strongly recommend drinking water and using toothpaste with fluoride for great oral health. Call Dental Avenue Maroubra for personalised advice or to schedule an appointment.