You must have heard from your dentist that fluoride is essential to your dental health. But what exactly does fluoride do for teeth? Does it prevent tooth decay? Is it safe and effective? Let’s explore this in detail.
Does Fluoride Prevent Tooth Decay?
In short, yes! Fluoride prevents tooth decay by strengthening your tooth enamel, which is the hard outer layer of the tooth. It makes the tooth extra resistant to acid attacks from bacteria in the mouth that causes cavities.
Fluoride, as a matter of fact, is the most significant public health achievement of the 20th century. Community water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 20% or more in both children and adults.
How Exactly Does Fluoride Work?
To understand how it works, You must have a little bit of knowledge about the structure of your teeth. Your tooth enamel comprises minerals, one of which is called hydroxyapatite; it consists of calcium and phosphate ions.
When bacteria in your mouth release acids, it dissolves the calcium and phosphate ions, leading to tooth decay.
Now here, fluoride takes its charge; it gets absorbed in the enamel, strengthens, and makes it resistant to acid attacks.
When fluoride gets absorbed, it forms a new mineral called fluorapatite. This newly formed mineral is much stronger and more resilient to acid attacks than hydroxyapatite, making your tooth resistant to decay.
How Do We Know Fluoride is Safe and Effective?
Despite its popularity and widespread use, along with proven benefits, people do show concerns about the safety of fluoride. However, multiple studies have presented the fact that fluoride is both safe and effective when used in recommended amounts.
The American Dental Association (ADA), for short, recommends using fluoride toothpaste 2 times a day. Other than that, fluoride treatments from the dentist every 6 months are a good idea.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a maximum contaminant level for fluoride in drinking water of 4.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L) to protect against the risk of dental fluorosis. This cosmetic condition can cause white spots on the teeth. Most community water systems in the United States are fluoridated at a level of 0.7-1.2 mg/L, which is well below the EPA’s maximum limit.
In conclusion, a fluoride is an essential tool in preventing tooth decay and promoting dental health. By strengthening tooth enamel and fighting harmful bacteria in the mouth, fluoride can significantly reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease.
And with decades of research showing its safety and effectiveness, fluoride is a trusted and widely used component of dental care. So next time you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste or drink fluoridated water, you can feel confident that you’re doing your part to keep your teeth healthy and strong.