Why is fluoride used in dentistry?
Fluoride is a key factor in preventive dental care for people of all ages. In fact, inadequate exposure to fluoride places children and adults in the high risk category for dental decay.
- It acts on the tooth making the enamel harder and thus more resistant to acid.
- It acts on the plaque, reducing its ability to make acid.
- It promotes repair of tooth enamel.
In what forms is fluoride available to us?
- Topical fluorides include toothpastes, mouthrinses and professionally applied fluoride gels and rinses which provide local protection on the tooth surface, making them more decay-resistant.
- Systemic fluorides are available in the form tablets, drops or lozenges, fluoride present in food and beverages, and in some countries in the water. They are ingested into the body and become incorporated in the tooth structure. If ingested regularly when teeth are developing, systemic fluorides are deposited throughout the entire surface and provide longer-lasting protection than topical fluorides.
Systemic fluorides can also give topical protection, as they remain present in saliva thus continually bathing the teeth. This provides a constant source of fluoride that can get incorporated into the tooth surface and helps to prevent decay.
Is fluoride effective for decreasing decay in adults?
Definitely. Fluoride plays a protective role against dental decay throughout life, benefiting both children and adults. In fact, fluoride treatments are more important for adults because fluoride in the water does not benefit teeth after they are formed.
Root surface cavities occur more frequently in adults than children. As a person ages, the best preventive treatment is plenty of fluoride toothpaste used for at least 2-3 minute brushing sessions, 2-3 times daily and fluoride treatments at preventive dental checkups.
Should my child be taking supplemental fluoride?
If your water supply is fluoridated, then you do not require supplemental fluoride for your child. However, if you live in an area where the water is non-fluoridated (well-water), then supplemental fluoride may be prescribed. Consult your dentist or physician for further details.
Is taking too much fluoride bad for me or my teeth?
Yes. Fluoride if consumed in concentrations greater than 1 PPM (part per million), for extended periods of time, can result in "Fluorosis". This results in deformations of the tooth enamel ranging from white spots, bands and brown pits making the tooth appear "mottled".