Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in the teeth and bones, as well as in water, air and soil. In the world of dentistry, the mineral is used widely to strengthen the enamel of the teeth in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay and cavities. It is also added to sources of public water in many countries around the world — in Australia, all the capital cities, with the exception of Brisbane, have been fluorinated for decades. But there is a lot of controversy and mixed research surrounding fluoride — read on to find out which claims are true, and which are merely common myths…
This one is true — fluoride has many benefits when it comes to keeping the teeth strong and healthy. In fact, the mineral boasts the ability to remineralise tooth enamel that has been weakened and can also slow down mineral loss from the enamel, and even prevent harmful bacteria from growing in the mouth.
Every time that you eat something that contains a carbohydrate or sugar, the bacteria in your mouth break down these foods and produce acids that attack the minerals in your enamel — this process is known as demineralisation. With a loss of minerals comes an increased risk of dental erosion and cavities. Fluoride helps to rebuild these minerals, which strengthens the teeth and can actually reverse some of the early signs of decay.
Some of the most common myths surrounding fluoride involve claims that the mineral causes serious health issues, including cancer, arthritis and bone fractures. There is, however, no reputable evidence to suggest that this is true.
There are currently no studies that link water fluoridation with incidences of any type of cancer, and there is no correlation between cancer rates in parts of Australia that have been mostly fluoridated for decades and those that were non-fluoridated until recently.
Arthritis Australia has endorsed water fluoridation as there is no scientific evidence linking fluoride with the symptoms of arthritis. Similarly, water fluoridation has been endorsed by Osteoporosis Australia.
Although fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral and is considered safe to use, it is important to understand that it can cause side-effects if too much is consumed. One of the possible side-effects of consuming large doses of the mineral is dental fluorosis. This occurs when one consumes excessive amounts of fluoride while the teeth are still forming and can cause white spots on the surface of the teeth. The issue most often affects children under the age of eight years old usually because they are more likely to swallow fluoride-containing toothpaste, rather than spit it out after brushing. To prevent your child from developing dental fluorosis, it is advisable that you supervise their oral hygiene routine while they are still young — make sure that they don’t swallow too much toothpaste, and teach them the importance of spitting and rinsing as part of their brushing routine.
There are a lot of things you can do yourself to maintain a healthy smile for life. One of the things that we recommend to all of our patients is to use a fluoride toothpaste when brushing your teeth at least twice a day. This will help to keep your teeth clean and strong in the long-term. Ideally, you should brush your teeth first thing in the morning and again before you go to bed at night.
We also encourage our patients to seek preventative dental care — this includes check-ups, cleans, fissure sealants and fluoride therapies. At Mornington Peninsula Dental Clinic, we provide all of these services and more.
If you would like to find out more about the preventative dentistry services that we offer at Mornington Peninsula Dental Clinic, please have a look here.
To make an appointment, please get in touch here or give us a call on (03) 5975 5944.