The Benefits of Fluoride
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in bodies of water (fresh or salt), soil and food. Fluoride is a safe and effective way to help prevent and even reverse the early stages of tooth decay. It does this by strengthening or remineralizing the outer layer of teeth (called tooth enamel). For decades, fluoride has been added to the public water supply throughout Canada through a joint federal/provincial committee responsible for maintaining optimal levels of water fluoridation. This is known to be very beneficial to everyone in the community regardless of age, income level or access to routine dental care. Fluoride is also found in many over the counter products such as toothpastes and mouth rinses. Although fluoride is very effective at reducing the incidence of tooth decay, too much of a good thing can be damaging. Dental fluorosis is a result of consuming too much fluoride. Although the fluoride added to our water isn’t enough to cause any damaging effects, swallowing toothpaste and mouth rinses containing fluoride can be. This is especially important for children between the ages of 6 months to 5 years. In its mildest and most common form, it affects the look of the tooth with small white, permanent specks appearing on the affected teeth. In most cases this is a cosmetic condition and not health threatening. In more severe cases, fluorosis may be treated by a dental professional. That being said, the incidence of fluorosis in children in Canada is very low, and where fluoride has been added to municipal water supplies, there has been a marked decline in tooth decay rates.
Tips to reduce too much fluoride consumption:
- Assist and supervise children while they use fluoridated products.
- Use small amounts of toothpaste when brushing. The size of a pea is all you need to properly brush your teeth
- Children under three should have their teeth brushed by an adult, using non-fluoridated toothpaste
- Fluoride mouth rinse is not recommended for children under six years of age.
Additional use and stronger doses of fluoride containing products is sometimes necessary for people who are at a higher risk of tooth decay:
- Rampant cavities
- Consistent dry mouth (due to smoking, prescription drug side effects, or systemic diseases like diabetes, hodgkin’s or parkinson’s disease)
- Cancer treatment (Radiation therapy and chemotherapy)
- Root Sensitivity
If you think any of these conditions might be relevant to you, talk to your dental health care provider. It is not recommended to increase your exposure to fluoride without an assessment of fluoride sources and a thorough clinical examination by a dental professional.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call! 289-362-GUMS (4867)