Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to be helpful in the fight against cavities and the strengthening of teeth. While it’s a mineral many of us have heard of, our knowledge is often limited. You don’t need to be an expert on fluoride to reap its benefits, it’s but always a good idea to know what you’re ingesting and why! If you’ve ever been curious about the mineral fluoride and how it’s helping your oral health, read on to learn more about this enamel-enhancer!
1. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral.
Found in all naturally occurring water sources, fluoride is a mineral that is the ionic form of the common trace element fluorine. Fluorine enters the water supply by leaching into groundwater from soil and rocks.
2. There is fluoride in tap water!
Most municipalities in the United States add fluoride to the community water supply in an effort to help people’s oral health. The American Dental Association cites community fluoride programs to be beneficial in the reduction of tooth decay among both adults and children. The current recommendation of fluoride concentration in water is just 0.7 parts fluoride per million parts water! However, even at this low concentration fluoride is helpful in the strengthening of enamel.
3. Bottled water won’t help your teeth.
While the water from your tap has been treated to help your teeth stay strong, most brands of bottled water do not contain optimal levels of fluoride. Children and adults who habitually drink bottled over tap water are more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay.
4. Filtration systems vary.
Some home filtration systems can sometimes impact the levels of fluoride in water. Reverse osmosis and distillation systems drastically lower the concentration level of fluoride, bringing it to suboptimal levels. Alternatively, carbon and charcoal filtration systems do not impact the amount of fluoride present in tap water.
5. You can ingest fluoride topically or systemically.
When ingested topically—through toothpaste, mouthwash, or water running over teeth—fluoride helps to strengthen existing enamel, making teeth less susceptible to decay. Systemic fluoride—ingested in water or supplements—acts from within the body while forming teeth to help make them stronger. Systemically ingested fluoride also helps topical fluoride protection because it enters the saliva, continuously coating the teeth in a protective barrier.
6. It does come with minor risks.
While fluoride is generally safe and beneficial, it does carry a few minor—mostly cosmetic—risks. If excess levels of fluoride are ingested during tooth development, fluorosis may occur. This can cause teeth to form with white lines or pitted white parts of enamel. A dentist can often correct for this with whitening treatments.
Fluoride is a silent helper in most of our lives, strengthening enamel and helping to prevent cavities! While important for all people, fluoride can be especially important for children who are still growing their permanent teeth.
If you’re worried about how much fluoride you’re getting, or if you’d like to schedule a routine appointment, give us a call at Downtown Dental in River North or the Loop today!