The Truth About Fluoride And Its Unique Abilities For Your Teeth

When you visit the dentist for a regular checkup and cleaning, one of the last things the hygienist will offer is a fluoride treatment. Fluoride is known for its ability to help your teeth stay strong and fight cavities, but do you really need fluoride for this purpose? Here are several things you should know about fluoride that may help you decide if you should use fluoride for your teeth.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found primarily in water, and it has been used for many years as a way of fighting cavities. Fluoride does this by strengthening the enamel on teeth. Strong enamel makes it harder for decay to destroy teeth. If you can keep the enamel on your teeth strong, you may have a better chance at preventing cavities in your mouth.

The other significant quality of fluoride, when used properly, is its ability to actually restore teeth that may have minor damage. As acid breaks down the enamel on teeth, fluoride can actually reverse the damage. These are the reasons dentists recommend the use of fluoride.

Doe Fluoride Have Side Effects?

As with most things in life, fluoride can have side effects; however, these effects only occur when a person misuses fluoride. The primary side effect is a condition known as dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is a condition that affects children that are eight years old or younger, and it is caused by ingesting too much fluoride.

When a child ingests fluoride as his or her teeth are developing, the fluoride can affect the permanent teeth that are not yet developed completely. If this happens, the child may have white spots on his or her teeth, or the child could have bad stains and pits on his or her teeth. The damage from fluorosis is not usually obvious until a child gets older, though.

The good news is that if you are an adult and do not have dental fluorosis, you will not have to worry about getting it. It cannot form on teeth that are already erupted and established.

What Options Do You Have For Getting Fluoride?

Drinking water that contains fluoride is a common method for getting the fluoride needed for your teeth; however, this is only an option if you have city water that contains fluoride. If you have a well, your water will not contain fluoride. The recommended amount of fluoride found in city water systems is 0.7 milligrams per liter. According to studies on this subject, this amount appears to be safe, yet it still offers benefits. It is safe in the sense that it reduces the risk of a child developing dental fluorosis, and it is beneficial because this amount appears to help reduce cavities on teeth.

While drinking water with fluoride is helpful, as an adult there are other steps you can take with fluoride that may reduce your chances of developing cavities. These other steps involve the use of fluoride in other ways.

The first method is through professional topical fluoride treatments, which are the type you can get at your dentist's office. This is done by placing foam on trays that sit on your teeth for a few minutes. The foam used is stronger than other sources of fluoride you can purchase over-the-counter, and that is because you will only get these treatments twice a year.

You can also use fluoride at home in several other ways. The first way is with toothpaste that contains fluoride. Another option is to use a fluoride rinse each day. You can also purchase gels and varnishes that offer fluoride in them. Using these things daily will help your teeth stay stronger, and this may help prevent cavities from forming.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of fluoride, talk to your dentist today. He or she can help you choose the right methods for your oral needs.