Fluoride is Good for Your Health
The Sacramento Dentistry Group firmly believes in the health benefits of fluoride. Losing teeth to decay and the aging generated by missing teeth are major causes of poor health and malnutrition in communities worldwide. We have described the health benefits of fluoride in our articles about Discovering the Benefits of Fluoride, Winning the Battle Against Cavities, and Your Toothbrush Is Not Just a Cleaning Device. We present these articles because many people still fear fluoride as a water additive or in their toothpaste, despite decades of safe use in municipal water supplies, long-standing history on its beneficial dental effect, and the declaration by the internationally recognized Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that water fluoridation is “safe and effective.”
What About Dental Fluorosis?
What is fluorosis? In its mild to moderate form, the enamel acquires a white opacity, somewhat brighter than the surrounding enamel. In its most severe form, the teeth can become a mottled brown. Nevertheless, a CDC report states: “Even in its severe form, enamel fluorosis is considered a cosmetic effect, not an adverse functional effect.” Out of the entire population of the United States, only .3% of citizens have severe dental fluorosis, and only 1.1% experience moderate forms of the condition. Even in the moderate form, however, the appearance of the teeth remains white and even some patients don’t recognize the presence of fluorosis. Patients with fluorosis can come from communities with low concentrations of fluoride in the water, as well as high concentrations.
We encourage our patients and members of the community with concerns about fluoride to examine the large amounts of accessible information on the CDC webpage. Included there is information about dental fluorosis, also known as fluoridosis. Some people speak of fluorosis as if it leads to serious harm and threatens the entire population. To the contrary, fluorosis only affects developing teeth. Therefore, to quote the CDC: “Children older than 8 years, adolescents, and adults are not susceptible to dental fluorosis.”
How Much Fluoride is Needed?
A CDC report states that approximately 1 part fluoride per one million parts of water is enough to provide strong enamel and significant cavity prevention through public water supplies. Temporary increases in fluoridation have “no lasting effect,” according to the CDC. Nevertheless, to prevent fluorosis while preserving the beneficial effect of fluoride on the tooth enamel, the CDC does have a series of recommendations for parents of young children.
- Supervise toothbrushing for children under six years of age. They should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and be encouraged to spit out the toothpaste when finished brushing, not swallow it.
- Preventing mild fluorosis in infants who consume powdered infant formula as their regular form of nutrition requires using non-fluoridated water “some of the time.” Non-fluoridated water sources are usually labeled “de-ionized, purified, demineralized, or distilled.”
- Fluoride is still recommended for young people to promote the growth of strong teeth.
The Sacramento Dentistry Group agrees with these recommendations and encourages parents to not fear the use of fluoride, either in dental products or the water supply, but to simply limit its use as indicated for children less than eight years of age.
Conspiracy Theories Abound About Fluoride
Conspiracy theories abound in our world and the attacks on fluoride started on this basis. They have continued, not because of any demonstrated harm from municipal water fluoridation, but due to a lack of appreciation for internationally recognized scientific research. Indeed, dentists today worry about some patients receiving too little fluoride due to the increased consumption of purified water.
Fluoride — A Tooth’s Best Friend
To conclude, fluoride is one of the best friends your teeth can ever have for the following reasons:
- Fluoride discourages the growth of harmful oral bacteria.
- Fluoride encourages the repair of enamel damaged by oral bacteria.
- Enamel repaired by reactions with fluoride is stronger than ordinary enamel.
- Fluoride is a proactive treatment for dental caries — preventing cavities before they take place.
- The presence of fluoride in water leads to stronger teeth in adulthood.
If you have questions about fluoride, such as whether you are receiving too much or too little, feel free to request a consultation with the dentists at the Sacramento Dentistry Group. We are here to keep your teeth healthy and free of decay and fluoride is one of our most useful tools — both in the office and in your life at home.