If you’ve ever gone shopping for toothpaste, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the various brands and types. The list of features and additives can be dizzying. However, there’s one ingredient that you want to make absolutely sure your toothpaste contains – fluoride!
What is fluoride? And what makes it so important to your oral health?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs in nature. Found in both fresh and salt water, fluoride has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel and increase the resistance of teeth to decay. Fluoride is especially beneficial to developing children’s teeth — and can even reverse early cavities!
How Does Fluoride Work?
Your mouth is constantly going through a series of processes known as remineralization and demineralization.
Here’s how it works:
As you eat, acids (such as from citrus fruits or plaque) contribute to the dissolving of molecules containing calcium and phosphorous, which are both beneficial for bone health and other necessary bodily functions. This process is called demineralization, and left unchecked it is harmful to your teeth.
But your body has a natural line of defense against demineralization: your saliva. This specially mixed liquid helps keep the mouth less acidic and contains minerals that naturally strengthen your teeth. This is called remineralization.
When fluoride is added to the process, the deposited minerals are even harder — leading to teeth that are stronger and more resistant to demineralization. By adding fluoride, most toothpastes provide an additional way to strengthen teeth and prevent decay.
How Else Can I Get Fluoride?
You automatically get a dose of fluoride every time you drink or rinse with Carmichael tap water. According to the Carmichael Water District’s official website, fluoride occurs naturally in the water, with an average fluoride level of 0.11 (mg/L). When young people drink this water, the fluoride travels throughout the body and will be absorbed by developing teeth.
In addition, as your trusted Carmichael dentist, we at the Marconi Dental Group can recommend a fluoridated toothpaste or mouthrinse. Depending on your circumstances, we may even recommend a direct supply of fluoride by means of a specialized gel, foam, or varnish.
But the amount of fluoride you personally need is influenced by your body’s makeup, your diet, and your personal routine of oral hygiene. And when it comes to children, it’s easy to overdo it with fluoride, potentially leading to a condition known as enamel fluorosis. This condition can result in unsightly spotting, staining, and pitting of the teeth. And adults who take in too much fluoride put themselves at risk of skeletal fluorosis, a condition which causes bone tenderness and can even lead to fractures.
Do you have questions about how much fluoride you’re getting, or should be getting? Contact us today and we’ll help you determine how much fluoride is right for you and your family.