What are the benefits of fluoride?
Fluoride can help oral health by strengthening tooth enamel. It is a mineral found in bones and teeth. It also can be found naturally in water, soil, plants, rocks and even air.
Fluoride is a term commonly used in oral hygiene and dentistry as it is often used to strengthen enamel. Enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth. Plaque left on the surface of your teeth, produces acids that can break down enamel. Plaque is accelerated by sugary foods and drinks.
Unknown to most, our mouth goes through two naturally occurring processes; demineralization and remineralisation.
- Demineralisation occurs when the essential minerals of your teeth, including calcium and phosphate are removed from the outer layer of your tooth. When this hard outside layer is weakened, this can leave your teeth more prone to decay.
- Remineralisation is the natural counteracting of damage done during demineralisation. Remineralisation includes removing acidic bacteria from your teeth.
A balance between both processes will lead to stronger tooth enamel, which protects your teeth. When the remineralization process can’t keep up with demineralization, accelerated tooth decay (cavities) will begin.
The benefit of Fluoride, is that it contributes towards increasing the remineralization process. Scientifically this helps to bring calcium and phosphate ions to help create a new surface layer that protects against acids. As a result, fluoride helps to shield your teeth by strengthening minerals. The new enamel crystals that are formed from fluoride toothpaste is harder and more resilient to acids.
In most cases, the amount of fluoride in popular toothpaste is safe. But, too much fluoride can lead to a condition known as Fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs when excessive fluoride causes a discolouration, which is a change in colour of tooth enamel. Most cases of Fluorosis are mild. Mild forms of Fluorosis appear as white lines or ‘flecking’ (patches of discolouration) on the surface of the teeth. In extreme cases Fluorosis can be noticeable as brown spots on teeth or become teeth become ‘pitted’.
The risks of too much fluoride in toothpaste is low. Children are more prone to Fluorosis when they swallow too much toothpaste rather than spitting it out.
Is Fluoride Safe?
After extensive clinical studies, fluoride in toothpaste is safe. Reviews of the risks associated with fluoride have found no evidence to support health related concerns.
The content amount of fluoride in toothpaste is minimal. The average quantity is anywhere between 1000 to 1500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride. Higher contents are generally prescribed to patients that are prone to tooth decay.
Dentists application of Fluoride
Upon request, dentists may apply fluoride as part of standard check-up and clean treatments. Dental Fluoride is used as a preventative treatment, that is part of the check-up an clean fee and therefore is often covered by your private health dental insurance. It is recommended to get fluoride treatment by your nearest dentist once every 6 to 12 months, varying upon your oral health.
Fluoride is beneficial to patients who are susceptible to tooth decay and have weakened enamel.