Dental fluoride is a routine part of most dental cleanings and exams at many dental offices. For some time, however, the use of fluoride has been a debate among dental and health professionals.
The question remains: Is fluoride good for you and your teeth, or not?
Well, the answer is yes. Fluoride contains a protective component for your teeth, but it can be harmful in certain circumstances, as well.
If you are over the age of 8, wear braces, have dry mouth, or have difficulty brushing and flossing your teeth properly, fluoride treatment benefits you the most. Fluoride in small amounts strengthens your tooth enamel, the number one protector of your teeth. Without fluoride, and other helpers such as saliva, your tooth enamel would not reharden after eating and drinking and would leave your teeth exposed to plaque and decay-causing bacteria.
On the other hand, fluoride in large amounts can be very harmful, especially for young children. Fluorosis is a condition caused by over-exposure to fluoride that can cause softening and crumbling of your enamel and permanent discoloration to your teeth.
The bottom line: Don’t be afraid of fluoride.
It’s safe to assume that you use fluoridated toothpaste. Most people do, and it’s unlikely that a toothpaste will get the ADA seal of approval if it contains no fluoride at all. Many areas of the U.S. have fluoridated water, so it’s likely that you ingest small amounts everyday. Between the fluoride in your toothpaste and drinking water, it’s enough to promote healthy teeth and gums, but not enough to harm you.
Also, if your dentist gives you a fluoride treatment, don’t be afraid to take it. Just be sure not to swallow it, as pure fluoride is much more harmful than diluted fluoride when ingested directly.
I’m Dr. Jeffrey Allen, a family dentist in Pella, Iowa, and I make it a point to keep my patients informed so that they can make sound decisions about their dental health. Call my dental office at (641) 628-1121 for more information or to schedule dental appointments for you and your family.