You may have heard about fluoride, especially if you’ve been to the dentist recently. It’s a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and most drinking water. Minerals are added to and lost from your teeth’s enamel, or the outer shell that protects the underlying sensitive nerves, every day. Bacteria in plaque demineralize enamel, while fluoride remineralizes it. How can you get more of it to protect your teeth? Is it even safe? Read on to learn all about fluoride.
WHY IS FLUORIDE IMPORTANT?
Fluoride provides the teeth with minerals it needs to strengthen the enamel and protect against cavities by making the teeth more resistant to attacks from bacteria. It has also been shown to reduce signs of tooth decay when applied early enough. For these reasons, dentists recommend using toothpaste with fluoride as well as getting additional fluoride treatments at your appointments, especially if you’re prone to getting cavities.
HOW CAN I GET MORE FLUORIDE?
As stated above, fluoride occurs naturally in a lot of foods and most drinking water. It also comes in the form of mouth rinses and fluoridated toothpastes. You can buy mouth rinses with fluoride at most drugstores, but stronger ones require a prescription form your dentist. Speaking of which, your dentist will often apply the material to your teeth in the form of a paste. This treatment contains a much more potent concentration of fluoride than what is available in your toothpaste or mouthwash.
IS FLUORIDE SAFE?
When used as directed, there are no health risks associated with fluoride. It can, however, be dangerous when applied at high doses, especially in children under the age of six. If you have young children, it’s important to keep fluoride products out of reach. Failure to do so can cause overexposure of fluoride, which can be harmful to little teeth.
It can result in a condition called fluorosis, which causes discoloration on the teeth that can last well into adulthood. These stains can usually be removed with professional teeth whitening treatment, but it’s best to avoid them from the beginning by making sure your little one doesn’t consume fluoride before they’re supposed to.
Fluoride is a great way to make sure your teeth are as healthy as they can be. Once your child is six or older, make sure they use fluoridated toothpaste to make sure their teeth grow up to be strong.