Before we talk about the safety of using fluoride during your dentist appointments, it is important that you understand what fluoride is and its importance to oral health. This is a mineral that is known to naturally occur in water and many foods that we consume. This mineral plays a major role in the prevention of tooth decay and as a result, it is often recommended by dentists. How safe is the use of this mineral?
How fluoride works
As already stated above, fluoride helps in preventing tooth decay but how? On a daily basis, minerals are added to and at the same time, lost from your tooth’s enamel layer through demineralization and remineralization. As acids attack your tooth’s enamel, it loses minerals (demineralization) and when you consume foods and water containing fluoride, these lost minerals are then re-deposited (remineralization).
What this means is that if you continue to lose mineral deposits to your tooth’s enamel layer without any form of re-deposits, you are bound to suffer from tooth decay. With the use of dental fluoride-containing products, some of the lost minerals are re-deposited. This in turn, makes the tooth resistant to decay-causing compounds, including sugars, bacteria, and others.
The safety of fluoride use
The way in which fluoride is introduced to your body is what determines its' safety. The quantity and the strength of the mineral also play a major role in determining the safety of its usage. For example, when used topically, the sodium fluoride contained in most toothpaste turns out to be very beneficial to your oral health. Added to the toothpaste on prescription-strength, the fluoride significantly improves remineralization and helps your teeth heal from cavities.
On the other hand, consumption of fluoride-containing water does not in any way help in the prevention or healing of cavities. Instead, it can lead to multiple unpleasant health conditions. This is because it begins to travel through your bloodstream and eventually spreads to other parts of your body. When this happens, it could lead to a variety of chronic health conditions, including central nervous system damage, cancer, fluorosis, and others.
In what forms is fluoride easily available?
Whether at the dentist office or at home, there are various methods through which fluoride is administered for oral purposes, this is apart from being present in foods and water. Fluoride can be found in most kinds of toothpaste (fluoridated) and mouth rinses. For the mouth rinses, the strength of the fluoride present usually varies. Over-the-counter mouth rinses are known to contain lower strength fluoride than dentist-prescribed mouth rinses which have stronger concentrations of the mineral.
When is fluoride most beneficial
Fluoride is important at every stage, but it is more beneficial when you are exposed to it from the age of 6 months through 16 years as it not only prevents tooth decay, but it also helps in strengthening the already developing teeth. If you also are suffering from gum diseases, dry mouth, cavities, or using braces and crowns, then there will be a lot of benefits gained from using fluoride-containing products.
The use of fluoride by your dentist is safe but only when used as directed or at a lower strength dosage. When used in excess, fluoride could lead to defects in your tooth’s enamel, including discolorations and cavities. Moderation is the key to an effective and safe use of fluoride. When using a fluoride toothpaste for children below the age of 6, ensure that they don’t swallow the toothpaste.
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