At the end of every cleaning our hygienists are likely to ask, “Would you like fluoride applied to your teeth, today?” The most common response is “I am not sure.” There are certainly a lot of opinions out there regarding fluoride, but all a patient really wants to know about fluoride is this: Is it safe and how can it benefit my oral and systemic health?
What is fluoride?
It is a natural mineral that is found throughout the earth’s crust and various other sources throughout nature. Since 1945, it has been added to tap water in order to decrease dental decay throughout the population. The minerals calcium, and phosphorus create hydroxyapatite, which is the mineral from which enamel is made. Once consumed, fluoride is added to hydroxyapatite to create fluorhydroxyapatite by stacking the calcium and phosphorus closer together. Fluorhydroxyapatite is stronger, harder, and more resistant to being demineralized by bacteria than hydroxyapatite after acidic food and drinks are consumed. In addition to increasing the strength of teeth, fluoride can also increase the strength of bones when consumed through the same mechanism previously described.
Is fluoride consumption and application safe?
When consumed in safe quantities, the answer is a resounding yes. The US Public Health Service recommendation for fluoride content in drinking water ranges from 0.7–1.2 mg/L depending on the climate of the area. This range of fluoride content is safe for patients 6 months and older. Most areas throughout North Carolina have a fluoride content of 1mg/L. The American Dental Association and US Public Health Service both recommend a fluoride content of, at minimum, 0.7 mg/L, in order to decrease dental decay. If one does not drink or brush his or her teeth with tap water or receives well water, then fluoride supplements and high fluoride toothpastes can be prescribed in order to obtain appropriate fluoride levels orally and systemically.
Lastly, how can fluoride benefit one’s oral and systemic health? Several ways! Fluoride prevents tooth decay and, in some cases, can stop or re-mineralize areas of decay. Fluoride aids in protecting and strengthening teeth for patients 6 months old and older. For those who suffer from tooth sensitivity, fluoride can be a major game-changer.
Here at Better Dental, fluoride is brushed directly onto your teeth by your hygienist. Each application takes just a few minutes and offers lasting results for up to 6 months.
At the end of the day, fluoride is both safe and effective when consumed in the appropriate dose. Systemic and topical fluoride is the most cost-effective way to prevent tooth decay throughout a patient’s lifetime. If you have any questions about how fluoride can help benefit your health, please do not hesitate to ask a member of our team the next time you stop by for an appointment.
“Fluoridation Facts.” American Dental Association, 2018, pp. 1–113., doi:10.1111/j.1752-7325.1955.tb01558.x.
Oliveira, Priscila Ferreira Torres De, et al. “Is the Fluoride Intake by Diet and Toothpaste in Children Living in Tropical Semi-Arid City Safe?” Brazilian Oral Research, vol. 32, 2018, doi:10.1590/1807-3107bor-2018.vol32.0026.
“U.S. Public Health Service Recommendation for Fluoride Concentration in Drinking Water for the Prevention of Dental Caries.” Public Health Reports, vol. 130, no. 4, 2015, pp. 318–331., doi:10.1177/003335491513000408.