Five Facts About Fluoride

What do you know about fluoride? As nature’s cavity fighter, fluoride is the key ingredient in most toothpastes and mouth rinses. You can also receive fluoride treatments at the dentist office. Here are five facts you might not have known about fluoride.

Fluoride is an element found in nature.

Even though you’re accustomed to hearing about fluoride in dental products, it’s not a lab-made chemical. In fact, fluoride is found in the earth’s crust, oceans, and atmosphere. As the 13th most abundant element on earth, it’s quite easy to come by. Tea plants, seawater, and volcanic rocks have relatively high concentrations of fluoride. Even some foods, such as fish, chicken, and rice, contain small amounts of fluoride.

Fluoridating municipal drinking water dates back 75 years.

In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan became the first city in the US to fluoridate its drinking water. The decision came after research in the 1930s revealed that people growing up in areas with naturally fluoridated water had up to two-thirds fewer cavities than people with little to no fluoride in their water. The American Dental Association, World Health Organization, and many other groups recognize water fluoridation as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.

Fluoride strengthens teeth.

Whether ingested in your drinking water or applied directly to your teeth, fluoride helps prevent cavities in two ways. First, it hardens the enamel of developing teeth before they emerge through the gums.

Second, it hardens the calcium and phosphorous that your saliva deposits onto your teeth during the remineralization process that occurs naturally in your mouth. This makes the enamel harder than it would be otherwise, decreasing the risk of cavities in the process.

Most bottled water doesn’t contain fluoride.

The recommended fluoride level in community drinking water is one part per million. This promotes the proper intake for the average adult of 1.4 mg to 3.4 mg. If you drink mostly bottled water, you may not be getting enough fluoride.

Check the brand of bottled water you buy to see if it contains this vital nutrient. Then, discuss any concerns with your dentist. You or your children may be advised to take fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops, or lozenges. Your dentist can prescribe the proper dosage. Be sure to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste as well.

Too much fluoride can be detrimental.

Swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste or taking too many fluoride supplements can cause mild discoloration of developing teeth before they erupt from the gums. This condition, called dental fluorosis, only occurs in children who still have baby teeth, but the effects are permanent. Skeletal fluorosis is a rare disease that affects children and adults. However, it only develops if a person consumes significantly higher-than-average amounts of fluoride.

If you’re interested in fluoride treatments or supplements, contact our dentist in Hazlet at (732) 264-4477 to learn more. We can also answer questions about fluoride exposure and any other oral health concerns you have.


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