Fluoride is a mineral found in the Earth's crust- in soil, food, and water. In the United States, fluoride is added to drinking water to help prevent tooth decay and reduce acid-related enamel wear. It is also added to some dental treatments, such as mouth rinses and tooth sealants, to prevent the formation of cavities.
Consumption of certain food and beverages have the potential to adversely impact our teeth, leading to decay and damage. This happens in addition to the daily wear and tear of the teeth. To protect the teeth from such problems and make tooth enamel healthy, many dentists have been recommending fluoride toothpaste and treatment. In fact, dentists also use fluoride in their dental treatments for teeth strengthening and give protection against cavities.
There main sources of fluoride include the following:
The primary benefit of fluoride is that it supports the prevention of tooth decay and cavities. Fluoride integrates into tooth enamel and thus has a protective effect on teeth. Fluoride thus helps repair the damage that is created by bacteria and makes the teeth harder for further damage.
American Dental Association (ADA) says that tooth decay has been reduced by up to 40% since fluoride was added to drinking water in the 1940s. As per the ADA, studies have proved that fluoridated water reduces cavities in primary teeth by up to 60% and in adult teeth by 35%.
Fluoride, taken in the form of beverages, foods, and dietary supplements, offers "systemic" benefits to teeth by making the enamel stronger and resistant to decay even before teeth break through the gums.
After the eruption of the teeth, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) the weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. Brushing the teeth with fluoride toothpaste or use other fluoride dental products provides what is called a "topical" benefit to the teeth.
Besides, the fluoride absorbed from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit as it becomes part of your saliva, constantly washing the teeth with small amounts of fluoride that helps repair damaged or weakened tooth enamel.
MYTH: "FLUORIDE IS NOT NATURAL."
Fact: Fluoride is natural and is present in many foods and in our water. Adding fluoride to drinking water is just the adaptation of fluoride that happens naturally to a safe and recommended level for preventing tooth decay.
MYTH: SINCE WE HAVE FLUORIDE IN OUR TOOTHPASTE, IT IS NOT NEEDED IN DRINKING WATER
Fact: Sometimes, fluoride in our toothpaste is not all that is needed. As per American Dental Association, fluoride toothpaste helps guard our teeth against cavities, and the fluoridated water offers added protection to help protect teeth from decay.
MYTH: FLUORIDE CAUSES CANCER.
Fact:American Cancer Society states that as per their studies, there is no link between cancer rates in humans and the optimal fluoride levels in drinking water.
MYTH: ADDING FLUORIDE TO WATER IS LIKE FORCING PEOPLE TO TAKE MEDICINE.
Fact:Fluoride is not a medication but are supplements that can provide health benefits to your body by fighting various diseases. It is a natural mineral, which, when presented at the right controlled level, is beneficial to our teeth.
It is always important to remember that maintaining healthy teeth primarily requires you to follow good oral hygiene and to stay away from cavity promoting food and beverages. If you consume sugar all day long and do not take care of your teeth, the risk of developing a cavity will be inevitable even if you use fluoride as recommended.
How can endodontic treatment help patients?