What is fluoride?
Fluoride is naturally occurring mineral that is found in rocks, soil, plants and water sources such as the sea, lakes and rivers.
Why is fluoride added to drinking water?
Fluoride added to water is known as ‘water fluoridation’ and is a process whereby the natural concentration of fluoride is increased to an optimal recommended level in order to prevent tooth decay. However, it is important to know that not all areas have additional fluoride added into their water supply. Public Health England are responsible for monitoring the impact of water fluoridation in England and report on the effects of areas that are under these schemes. Visit the below link for more information.
Why is it so important to use fluoride products such as toothpaste?
When sugar is consumed it is broken down by bacteria which results in acids forming on the teeth and therefore increases the chance of developing cavities. Fluoride toothpastes are an extremely important product to use daily as it helps protect against tooth decay due to its ability to aid in strengthening tooth enamel but most importantly its anti-bacterial properties help to resist bacteria penetration by forming a protective barrier on the tooth surface. Fluoride toothpaste is important to use from as soon as a tooth is visible in babies all the way up to the elderly, however different concentrations are advised for younger children so please consult your dentist prior to use on children under the age of 3.
Is fluoride toxic?
There are many different types of fluoride however what is used in dentistry is safe to use on a daily basis. Fluoride containing compounds such as sodium fluoride are used in systemic and topical therapies in order to prevent tooth decay. You can’t overdose on a fluoride toothpaste using the recommended amounts, however eating a whole tube of toothpaste isn’t advisable and would make you very ill in the same as consuming too much vitamin C can also have adverse effects!
Can fluoride have a negative effect on the teeth?
Using toothpastes and mouthwashes are beneficial for your teeth if used responsibly, however when your enamel is forming too much fluoride can cause the tooth to become hyper mineralised resulting in a mottled effect which is known as dental fluorosis. In severe cases this can brown marks on the teeth and milder cases small white spots. This all depends on the amount consumed, your age and the frequency.
Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and using fluoride-based mouthwashes are unlikely to cause this effect, however if additional supplements are taken and excessive amounts of fluoride is in consumed daily then there is a risk of forming dental fluorosis. Tooth decay is still a widespread problem affecting 60-90% of the population so fluoride is an essential part of tackling this very common dental disease.