There is a lot of misinformation about fluoride in the media. Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral in the Earth’s surface. In small doses, it strengthens teeth and prevents tooth decay. Many municipalities add small doses of fluoride to the drinking water as a cost-effective public health method of preventing tooth decay. Is fluoride safe? How much do you need? Let’s take a look at fluoride and the benefits of using a fluoridated toothpaste.
How Does Fluoride Protect Your Teeth?
Fluoride works in different ways. When teeth are developing in children under seven years old, fluoride strengthens the structure of the tooth. This protects teeth right from the beginning of their growth. As plaque builds up on the teeth, it weakens the enamel, causing demineralization. The mouth naturally tries to fix this process, through remineralization, but isn’t always effective. Fluoride promotes remineralization, which is another way that teeth are strengthened.
Fluoride also blocks some of the harmful enzymes in plaque. Plaque is the sticky substance that forms on your teeth and causes tooth enamel to weaken and decay. By blocking these enzymes, the teeth are protected and less susceptible to decay.
How Much Fluoride Is Required?
The amount of fluoride required for each person depends on age and the level of fluoride in the water. Infants and children should get much less fluoride than adults. Fluoridated water isn’t always enough on its own, but some people worry about getting too much fluoride when they use fluoridated toothpaste. Keep in mind that you aren’t supposed to swallow toothpaste, which means that the fluoride in toothpaste isn’t part of your overall dosage. But it does benefit the teeth.
Should I Take Dietary Fluoride Supplements?
Adults need about 3 to 4 milligrams of fluoride each day, while children from 4 to 13 only need about 1 to 2 milligrams. If you live in an area without fluoridation in the water, you should talk to your dentist and healthcare provider about fluoride needs. Canned fish, milk, eggs and red meats have small amounts of fluoride in them. You can also look into fluoride supplements. Fluoride mouthwash might be a good option for adults, but children often drink the mouthwash rather than spit it out. It’s not a good option for children.
Talk to Your Dentist
If you have concerns about getting too much or too little fluoride, talk to your dentist. You may be able to receive a professional fluoride treatment which adds protection to your teeth and makes sure every surface of your teeth are covered. Make an appointment today with a dentist for a cleaning and exam.
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