What Is Fluoride? Uses and Benefits

While you carry on enjoying the benefits of fluoride, you still need to exercise caution—fluorosis results from excessive consumption from fluoride. Children usually suffer from enamel fluorosis and dental fluorosis. Both of these are preventable by supervising your child and teaching them not to swallow fluoride products. Adults, on the other hand, can experience skeletal fluorosis.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride comes from the element fluorine, which appears quite widely in nature. It’s often called nature’s cavity fighter for its ability to stop cavities in their tracks. It also strengthens the skin of your teeth, known as the enamel, making it resistant to acids that can cause tooth decay and other kinds of damage.

What Is Fluoride Used For?

Fluoride plays a significant role in our dental health. Most dental products like toothpaste, supplements, and mouth rinses are abundant in fluoride. If you’ve seen toothpaste ads, you’ll realize that brands often highlight their products’ fluoride content. In fact, dentists usually suggest using a prescription mouthwash that contains high amounts of fluoride to patients with a lot of cavities.

Water fluoridation has also become a common practice to ensure public water supplies are rich in fluoride to aid the reduction of tooth decay issues.

But what is fluoride used for, outside of dental health?

Fluoride also has industrial uses. It serves as a cleaning agent and is also found in pesticides and in the manufacture of steel, aluminum, and Teflon products. In medicine, fluoride is necessary to carry out imaging scans, such as PET scans.

What Are the Benefits of Fluoride?

As humans, we enjoy a multitude of benefits from fluoride use.

Fluoride strengthens weak tooth enamel with consistent use. At the same time, it prevents mineral loss in tooth enamel. It also remedies signs of tooth decay when used early on.

For people experiencing bad breath, harmful oral bacteria may be the cause. Fluoride is responsible for inhibiting their growth. These bacteria break down carbs and sugar, de-mineralizing your teeth, weakening tooth enamel, and eventually causing cavities. Fluoride helps remineralize the tooth enamel, so your risk of these issues becomes significantly lower.

How Much Fluoride Do You Need?

It depends on many factors, such as your own body biochemistry, eating habits, your fluoride use, and other efforts to maintain oral health. All of these elements measure your risk of decay.

Let me paint you a picture: People who brush and floss regularly and stay away from foods high in sugar or acid most likely have a lower tooth decay risk. On the other hand, those who don’t care about their oral hygiene and actively snack on sugary and acidic foods and beverages are faced with a higher risk.

It’s not enough that you brush your teeth once a day and assume you’ll reap the benefits of fluoride. If you eat sweets regularly, your mouth will become a breeding ground for decay-causing bacteria. Why? Because they need sugar to survive. As they feast on sugar, they release acids that erode your teeth. Drinking beverages and food high on acid, on the other hand, destroys your teeth directly with their high concentrations of tooth-destroying acids.

Are There Any Fluoride Side Effects?

Fluoride exists in nature, but it doesn’t mean it remains safe when taken excessively. Children and adults are at risk of fluorosis, which refers to having too much fluoride in your system.

If your child’s developing teeth have taken in more than the ideal amount of fluoride, they can become stained or pitted, known as enamel fluorosis. Then there’s dental fluorosis, characterized by white spots on the teeth’s surface. It occurs when a child (usually below 8 years of age) consumes too much fluoride during teeth formation.

That’s why it’s not ideal to swallow toothpaste rich in fluoride. It’s not just frowned upon; it’s also a health hazard. Reduce your child’s risk of suffering from fluoride side effects by checking on them while they brush their teeth. Teach them not to spit after gargling.

Adults can also suffer from fluoride side effects due to the accumulation of the mineral over time. Skeletal fluorosis has symptoms that include bone tenderness or fractures.

Fluorosis, of any kind, is generally preventable. Just exercise caution when using dental products rich in fluoride.

For more information about the benefits and possible risks of using fluoride systemically, visit us at Sunrise Dentistry. We offer holistic dentistry in Durango, CO that takes care of your overall well-being and not just oral health.