Why is Fluoride Important?

You know you’re supposed to use fluoride toothpaste and drink water that contains fluoride. But is fluoride actually good for your teeth? Is fluoride safe to ingest? Many patients can have misconceptions about fluoride and think that fluoride isn’t good for their health. As your dentist in Chapel Hill, NC, we’re here to clarify the safety of fluoride and review why fluoride can benefit your oral health

Why is Fluoride Important?

Is Fluoride Bad For You?

Fluoride comes from fluorine, a natural element. Like other substances like water, too much fluoride isn’t good for you. A common problem with excess fluoride is dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis can occur if children are overexposed to fluoride at an early age, which can impact the appearance of their teeth.

Before the permanent teeth emerge, too much fluoride can form white or brown spots on the teeth. If a child ingests too much fluoride while their permanent teeth are forming, they can experience dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis is harmless, but it affects the appearance of the smile. Additionally, adults are not affected by dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis does not damage or weaken the teeth. 

Preventing Excessive Fluoride 

To prevent dental fluorosis, ensure your child does not swallow fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride must stay on their teeth, but they should not ingest it. Additionally, do not use mouthwash if it contains fluoride. You can also avoid infant formula and breastfeed instead, as some formulas contain fluoride.

Ultimately, ensuring that your child receives fluoride in their toothpaste or water, but not excess fluoride in other parts of their life can prevent white spots caused by dental fluorosis. 

The Benefits of Fluoride

There are many oral health benefits of fluoride. Fluoride can help control cavities in children and adults by strengthening the enamel. Many children who have access to fluoride have shallower grooves in their enamel. Children with access to water with naturally higher fluoride may be less likely to experience cavities than children without fluoridated water.

Fluoride also fights demineralization. Demineralization can occur in the enamel and dentin of the teeth or the outer and inner tooth layers. Patients with demineralized teeth essentially have weakened teeth that are more prone to damage or decay.

We provide fluoride treatment for patients who require preventative care against bacteria that can strengthen their teeth. Fluoride can also prevent damage and buildup from harmful bacteria contributing to cavities and gum disease. A good oral hygiene routine that includes fluoride can keep your smile healthy.

It is important to note that fluoride is not toxic; while dental fluorosis may affect the smile’s appearance, it will not affect the patient’s physical health. If you have questions about fluoride and treatment in our office, contact our Chapel Hill office today at 919.736.6175 or request a dental appointment with Dr. Jim Furgurson online.