Conspiracy theories are everywhere these days. But as dentists, you know the one that really gets our goat? The idea that fluoride treatment is some kind of government-sponsored tranquilizer out to turn America’s citizens into zombies.
Yes, there are people who really do peddle this one — several others.
But dentists from Cleveland to Timbuktu will tell you that fluoride doesn’t just protect your teeth from decay — it can actually help rebuild the protective enamel coating of teeth.
Yes, fluoride is good for you, and you should seek it out — in toothpaste, in your drinking water, in fluoride treatments we can administer at our Cleveland dental office. So if you want healthier teeth for you and your family, fluoride is your (and your dentist’s) best friend. Here is why you should take fluoride — and how to get more into your diet and daily dental care.
Nature’s Protector: Why Dentists Love Flouride
Contrary to popular myth, there’s nothing unnatural about fluoride — in fact, it comes from the earth. Fluoride is actually a chemical ion of fluorine, a common element in the earth’s crust. Fluoride is found naturally in rocks, soil, water, and even some foods.
Every day, your tooth enamel loses and adds minerals through either demineralization or remineralization. Plaque bacteria and sugars attack the enamel, demineralizing the teeth. But through certain foods and water that we intake, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are redeposited to remineralize the teeth.
Tooth decay happens when you have more demineralization and not enough remineralization.
Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to the acids of plaque bacteria and sugar. It even reverses early decay, especially in children. Fluoride works by speeding up the remineralization process, protecting the teeth from decay, and regaining ground lost to decay.
Who Needs Fluoride? Pretty Much Everybody!
Fluoride is especially helpful for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years — the timeframe when primary and permanent teeth come in. Fluoride works best in the development of permanent teeth because it strengthens the teeth against demineralization. But adults can benefit too. It’s good for everyone as a teeth strengthener, but especially kids.
People with certain conditions who are at a higher risk of tooth decay may benefit from more extensive fluoride treatment. These conditions include:
- Dry Mouth: People who have dry mouth from diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, or who take certain medications, or who undergo head and neck radiation treatments.
- Gum Disease: Patients who suffer from gum disease such as gingivitis or periodontitis — their tooth or roots may be more exposed to bacteria and tooth decay.
- High Cavity History: If you typically have a cavity or two a year, fluoride treatments might help.
How to Increase Your Fluoride Intake
Fluoride is already found in many community water systems. That’s why as dentists, we always recommend drinking unfiltered tap water over bottled water.
Toothpaste that has the ADA seal has been tested to have enough fluoride to protect your teeth. Many — but not all — mouthwashes also contain fluoride. Look for it on the label!
At our dentist office in Middleburg Heights, we can apply fluoride treatments to your teeth. These treatments come in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish. They contain a higher amount of fluoride than what you get in over-the-counter toothpaste and mouthwash. We can also prescribe you fluoride supplements either as a liquid or a tablet.