16 Feb Is Fluoride Toothpaste Safe?
Most of us have adopted a daily brushing and flossing routine to care for our teeth and actively fight against cavities. Fluoride-containing toothpaste acts as an additional shield in the prevention of oral bacteria and cavity-causing tooth decay.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in teeth and bones. It is also found in soil and plants, as well as in varying concentrations in water. Demineralization of teeth refers to the loss of minerals which occurs for two primary reasons: bacteria and acidity-producing foods. As the mineral density in teeth decreases, the protective enamel layer of teeth begins to erode. This erosion leaves teeth vulnerable to dental cavities and oral disease. Remineralization is a natural repair process in which the body takes minerals from your saliva and deposits it into the enamel, strengthening it. Fluoride is a mineral that acts as a preventive measure to strengthen enamel.
Benefits of Fluoride
The bacteria naturally present in the mouth feed on sugar and carbohydrates and the byproduct are acids that eat away the mineral in enamel. Fluoride benefits enamel in several ways:
- adds minerals (remineralizes) to reharden acid-damaged enamel
- bonds to the enamel and attracts other beneficial minerals including calcium
- inhibits the growth of bacteria by removing plaque and tartar
- reverses signs of early tooth decay
While non-fluoride-containing toothpaste contains other ingredients like silica and xylitol to help remove bacteria-causing plaque from teeth, these products are unable to restore lost minerals to the enamel.
Is Fluoride Safe?
Since its introduction over 60 years ago, the safety of fluoridated water has been deeply studied and re-evaluated. Scientific experts have confirmed fluoride as an effective tool to reduce tooth decay.
While beneficial in building strong teeth, too much of a good thing is never good. Dental fluorosis is a rare side effect caused by too much fluoride in young children. It is not a disease. Fluorosis appears as white flecks on the surface of the teeth and in severe cases, may cause premature pitting and discoloration of the enamel.
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends a pea-sized amount of fluoride for children ages 3-6 years. With enticing toothpaste flavors like bubblegum, children may be tempted to eat their toothpaste. The product should be stored out of reach of children and used with parental supervision. Adults should speak with their dentist before giving or taking fluoride supplements or consuming too many products fortified with fluoride.
Incorporating fluoride-containing toothpaste into your daily brushing routine helps to keep teeth strong and fight enamel eroding bacteria. As with any product or process, arm yourself with information by talking to your dentist about products or concerns.
At Imperial Dental Center, our goal is to provide the best dental care to our patients while ensuring their comfort and safety in our care. Contact us today at (281) 265-3567 or schedule an online appointment to discuss any dental concerns you may have.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
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