Why is Fluoride so Important for Teeth?
Every time you brush your teeth or visit the dentist, you will come into contact with fluoride. This natural mineral is essential to maintaining good oral health, as it helps to prevent tooth decay and ensure teeth remain strong and healthy. You may be wondering how fluoride works and how much you should be getting, read on to find out!
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound which is found within sea water, fresh water (trace amounts), food, plants, rocks, air and toothpaste. It plays an essential role in the remineralization process whereby fluoride, phosphate and calcium work synergistically to help strengthen and maintain tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the first line of defence against tooth decay, so by ensuring you get enough fluoride you can reduce your risk of cavities and give yourself the best chance of maintaining a healthy smile for life.
The initial signs of fluoride deficiency are easily detected by your dentist, with the typical symptoms being a thin or worn layer of enamel which may be contributing to tooth and bone weakness and the development of cavities.
Summary of fluoride benefits:
- Helps to prevent cavities
- Helps to rebuild tooth enamel
- Helps to reduce tooth sensitivity
- May reverse/stop early tooth decay
- Strengthens bones and tooth enamel
Where is Fluoride Found?
Tap water is the most readily available form of fluoride, although small amounts are also found in vegetables, grains and fruit. According to Health NSW, fluoride is added to the NSW water supply at a level of 1 milligram per litre (mg/L). This is the recommended range according to the National Health and Medical Research Council, as it is a safe and effective amount which can reduce the risk of dental decay.
The majority of toothpastes available for sale in Australia also contain fluoride, but it’s worth double checking your chosen product to be sure. After brushing and flossing, you may also choose to use a fluoridated mouthwash.
During routine dental appointments, fluoride is administered by your dentist in the form of a gel, rinse, varnish or foam. This is done in order to strengthen tooth enamel.
What About Fluorosis?
Dental fluorosis is a condition which can occur as a result of excessive fluoride. Early signs include discolouration or enamel ‘spotting’. Dental fluorosis usually only affects children, particularly those who take fluoride tablets. Due to the fact that fluoride is added to drinking water in Australia, fluoride tablets are usually not necessary for children as they could adversely affect the development of their teeth.
Dentists recommend that parents clean their children’s teeth until they are at least 18 months of age. Water can be used instead of toothpaste at this stage of life. Your dentist will advise accordingly as to the type of toothpaste your child should use from 18 months and beyond. This could be a low-fluoride or standard fluoride toothpaste depending on individual needs and development.
Don’t Neglect Routine Check-ups
Maintaining a good oral hygiene routine, drinking plenty of water and using fluoridated toothpaste will go a long way in ensuring a healthy smile. It’s also important to visit your dentist on a regular basis, ideally every 6-months, for a routine check-up. This will ensure that any issues are detected and treated in the early stages.
Book an Appointment at Big Smiles Dental Today
Fluoride is an essential mineral for oral health. If you have any questions around fluoride, or if you are due for a check-up, please don’t hesitate to book an appointment at Big Smiles Dental today.