Many of our patients know that we consider fluoride an amazing tool. The increased use of fluoride has Fotolia_21298027_XS1-213x300changed dentistry radically over the past forty years or so. So although you probably are familiar with fluoride, this post is really to answer the question: Why do I need fluoride?  What are the benefits? What are the risks? So lets start with the facts:

Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound found in water, soil and food.

Fortifying drinking water has been recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service to aid in the prevention of tooth decay, they recommend adjusting the naturally occurring fluoride level of existing public and private water sources to reach the optimal level of fluoride which is 0.7-1.2 parts per million or milligram per liter. Fluoride helps prevent cavities by being absorbed into the enamel of the your teeth and fortifying it, making the enamel more resistant to decay and demineralization. This can help in preventing early weakening in the tooth structure and early decay.

What are the risks of using fluoride?

The CDC has done numerous studies, the most common risk noticed is dental fluorosis if fluoride is consumed in a high amount for a long period of time during the development of the adult teeth. Dental fluorosis is pitting or mottling of the enamel of the teeth. Children 8 and younger are the most at risk for dental fluorosis. Also, There has been some speculation about a link between fluoride and osteosarcoma however over the past 60 years of fluoride use and studies no link has been established between bone health and fluoride.
  • The CDC has listed water fluoridation as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century
  • The first city to adjust the level of fluoride in its water supply was Grand Rapids, Michigan on January 25, 1945
  • Although not all water supply is fluoridated around 72.4% of the U.S. population receive fluoridated water.
  • Aside from fluoridated water  you can obtain fluoride from a multitude of sources. Such as, fluoride multivitamins for children, in some foods, as well as many mouth rinses and toothpastes.
  • Fluoride is endorsed and recommended by the American Dental Association as well as many other state and local dental societies.

Fotolia_27127427_XS-300x199 possible link with bottled water.  Some articles have suggested that the increase in bottled water over tap water has decreased the amount of fluoride intake thereby increasing the rate of cavities in children. This statement is not entirely true. Although decreased fluoride intake can increase your susceptibility to cavities it is only one factor in a complex scenario. Also, keep in mind that many bottled water companies do offer water with fluoride in it and also many communities do not have fluoride in their tap water. Over the years dentistry has focused on preventative care with pediatric patients. We do this by recommending good home care, fluoride use, dental sealants and regular check ups. This is only one piece of the puzzle though. One portion of care that dentists do not get to address thoroughly is a child’s diet. With an increase in high sugar and carbohydrate intake, processed foods, and children with little opportunity to brush their teeth during the day, we are seeing more and more children with cavities at a young age. Bottled water is not the enemy, as the International Bottled Water Association stated in a recent article, bottled water does not have sugar in it and is a great and healthy alternative to other bottled drinks on the market. Fluoride is just one step to help our children achieve great oral health. We also have to focus on good nutrition, home care, and regular hygiene visits to help keep our kids healthy!]]>