Make your Teeth Stronger!
With fluoride, your smile only gets better.
Fluoride makes teeth strong, and so we have always heard. Therefore, whenever we go shopping, hunting for fluoride-rich toothpaste is always on the list. The use of fluoride has sparked an eternal debate as many studies have concluded that overuse of fluoride can do more harm than good. So, make your teeth stronger and smile charming; here is everything you need to know about fluoride.
Fluoride- What is it?
Fluoride abundantly occurs in nature in water, rocks, air, and soil as fluorine. It is also present in your bones and teeth and helps in mineralization, making them stronger. Due to the plethora of benefits, it has been synthetically incorporated in toothpaste, drinking water, mouthwashes, supplements, and certain other chemical products. However, the use of fluoride beyond the recommended guidelines carries potential risks. It can damage the teeth and bones by making them weak and porous. Overuse of fluoride has been linked to certain neurological problems.
Recommended levels of fluoride:
The main purpose of fluoride is to improve dental health. According to the FDA and CDC guidelines, fluoride levels of 0.7 ppm are considered optimum. Anything above 4.0 ppm can be dangerous for your oral cavity and your bones. The following amounts of fluoride are recommended for different age groups:
0 to 3 years: 0.1 to 1.5 mg
4 to 6 years: 1 to 2.5 mg
7 to 10 years: 1.5 to 2.5 mg
>10 years and adults: 1.5 to 4 mg
When it comes to using the fluoridated toothpaste in kids, you can use it as follows:
From the first tooth popping out to 3 years- the size of a rice grain
3-6 years- pea size
However, supervise your kids closely while brushing so they do not ingest a high amount of toothpaste that can result in fluoride intoxication.
The Dental Benefits of Fluoride
Research and studies have shown that adding fluoride in moderation in the municipal water supply can lower the risk of dental problems, especially tooth decay, in the local population. It is a known fact that children are prone to tooth decay. However, not all can afford regular dental visits. This is why adding fluoride to toothpaste and water offers preventive measures for people who need them. Fluoride possesses anti-cariogenic and anti-microbial properties and plays a major role in maintaining optimum oral hygiene because:
It remineralizes (rebuilds) the weekend outermost layer of the tooth (enamel)
It lowers the process of demineralization hence making the tooth stronger
It can reverse the initial stage of tooth decay
It makes it difficult for bacteria to harbor in the mouth
The bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars and carbs and break them down into acids. The acids attack the tooth structure, eating away its minerals- demineralization. This is where fluoride steps in. Firstly, it helps to get rid of the bacteria to hinder the process of demineralization. Next, it helps the tooth reabsorb minerals – remineralization- that aids in keeping tooth decay at bay.
Dental Use of Fluoride
Fluoride has gained immense popularity in the dental world after its proven dental benefits. Although it offers preventive measures, it can be used in dental treatments as well. This is why it is incorporated into various dental products such as:
Mouthwashes and in some brands of dental floss
Gels and varnishes
Dental fillings and dental cement
Fluoride supplements are also provided, especially in areas where fluoride levels are subpar and do not meet the recommended guidelines.
Fluoride and Its Potential Risks
As already mentioned, overuse of fluoride is harmful to your oral health and overall health. Here are some of the side effects:
*Dental Fluorosis: Have you ever witnessed a kid or an adult with white spots on their teeth? That may indicate dental fluorosis. High fluoride levels in the water supply, toothpaste, or mouthwash under 6 years of age are all probable causes for fluorosis. Although it does not make your teeth unhealthy, it can cause permanent tooth discoloration. Fluorosis occurs during the developmental phase and is irreversible. Therefore, to prevent it, the water supply fluoride levels should be monitored, and the mothers can use fluoride-free water for making infant’s formula milk.
*Skeletal Fluorosis: Just like in your teeth, excessive fluoride damages your bones, too. The bones lose their elasticity and become hard, making them vulnerable to fractures and pain. If the severity of skeletal fluorosis increases, the bone tissue thickens and accumulates, immobilizing the joints.
*Fluoride Poisoning: I did not make this up; fluoride poisoning is a thing. Short-term exposure to extremely high fluoride levels can cause severe abdominal pain, excessive formation of saliva in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, seizures, and muscle spasms. Fluoride intoxication occurs mostly in industrial areas where fires or explosions can contaminate the local water supply.
*Other problems: High fluoride levels can damage the parathyroid gland, resulting in abnormal secretion of hormones. It makes the bone lose calcium and become prone to fractures. Similarly, excess fluoride use during pregnancy can result in deformities and lower IQ levels in children.
*Besides, excessive fluoride can also cause acne, heart problems, lower fertility, joint dysfunctions, and ADHD.
Excess Fluoride- How Does It Happen?
You must be wondering that if toothpaste and water have optimum fluoride, then how does excessive fluoride occur? Well, here is how:
Untested public water fluoridation
High fluoride concentration in natural freshwater
Overuse of fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash
Excessive use of fluoride supplements
Overconsumption of fluoride-rich foods
Fluoride- The Bottom Line
Even with all the risks, fluoride has proven beneficial in preventing dental problems, especially tooth decay. Studies have also shown that fluorides make your bones stronger and your body healthier. Therefore, using it as recommended can make your life and smile better!