Benefits & Dangers of fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in many foods and natural water supplies. Fluoride and fluoride toothpastes benefit to oral health. Fluoride side effects and dangers are related to fluoride over dosage (dental fluorosis).
Benefits of Fluoride use
Fluoride is the main reason that tooth decay has been reduced dramatically over the last years. The appropriate amount of fluoride is essential to prevent tooth decay and avoid fluoride side effects.
The use of fluoride toothpastes is the most common and effective way to obtain the necessary quantity of fluoride. Common compounds used in fluoride toothpastes are sodium monofluorophosphate and sodium fluoride.
How does fluoride work
Fluoride makes the tooth structure stronger, so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay (before the formation of a cavity).
Fluoride strengthens teeth by penetrating the tooth structure and replacing lost minerals to repair acid damage.
In areas that do not have adequate levels of fluoride in their drinking water or dietary sources, children may benefit from using additional fluoride products. Your dentist will advice you if any fluoride supplements are required. In this case fluoride may be obtained through other sources as :
- Fluoridated community water
- Fluoride toothpastes (> 3 yrs)
- Fluoride mouthrinses (> 6 yrs)
- Fluoride drops
- Fluoride tablets
- Professionally applied fluoride (gel, foam, rinse) at the dental office.
- Fluoride varnishes, have shown many advantages compared to fluoride drops and tablets, or even gels and foams. Their use has increased over the last years, as they are used and recommended by most of the dentists, especially in Europe. Learn more details about topical fluoride varnishes.
Fluoride Side Effects
The most common adverse effect of fluoride over-usage is dental fluorosis. Enamel or dental fluorosis is a condition caused by 'excessive' intake of fluoride.
How to Prevent Fluoride Side Effects
WARNINGS & TIPS on the use of Fluoride Supplements
- Do not exceed the recommended dose of fluoride tablets, drops etc, which will be stated in the product packaging or information leaflet supplied with the product.
- Consult your pharmacist or dentist before giving your children any fluoride supplements. Only they can make sure you use the correct preparation and dose of fluoride, depending on the age of the child and the amount of fluoride in the local drinking water, in order to prevent any fluoride side effects.
- Fluoride supplements should not be used in areas where the water contains more than 700 micrograms per litre (0.7 parts per million) of fluoride. In children under 2 years of age, fluoride supplements should not be used where the water contains more than 300 micrograms per litre (0.3 parts per million).
- Only use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to brush the teeth, especially while taking other fluoride supplements.
- Fluoride tablets should be sucked or chewed, preferably at bedtime.
- Fluoride drops should given on a spoon, or mixed with food or drink.
Daily oral hygiene is essential for maintaining oral health. It should also be combined with proper healthy diet and regular dental visits.