In dentistry and local water sources has been commonplace for many years to use fluoride. But as more natural, fluoride-free toothpaste and mouth rinse options appear on the market, consumers have begun questioning whether they should use the ingredient.
We understand the desire to know all you can about these products before continuing to use them every day. At Mills River Dentistry, we want our patients to understand what fluoride is, its benefits, and why they should use it to maintain their oral health.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral naturally released by rocks into our soil, water, and air. Fluoride can be found in any local rivers, lakes, and oceans, though there isn’t generally much fluoride in these water sources. It can also be found in drinking water, though the amount of fluoride varies based on where you live and is decided by state and local officials.
In dentistry procedures, and the mineral is found in many dental products. It is most commonly used to strengthen our enamel, which is the protective outer covering of your teeth. When consumed, fluoride is absorbed by our gut and stored in our bones and teeth.
Why Is There Fluoride In Drinking Water?
In the early twentieth century, scientists discovered a link between communities with high levels of naturally occurring fluoride and lower levels of tooth decay. Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first community to add fluoride to tap water in 1945.
Following the addition of fluoride to their water supply, studies of the community found that their school-aged children had fewer cavities than children of the same age in surrounding communities. After this discovery, other cities and states began to use fluoride in their local water. By 1948, almost 600,000 Americans had access to fluoridated tap water; by 1980, half of the U.S. population received fluoridated water.
What Are The Benefits of Using Fluoride?
Using fluoride is often associated with lower levels of tooth decay. It rebuilds weakened enamel and slows down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel. It also helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in our mouth that may be responsible for remineralization.
By removing this bacteria from our mouth, fluoride helps prevent cavity development. When fluoride was introduced to local water supplies, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a 68% drop in the average number of missing and decaying teeth in 12-year-old children.
When Can My Child Use Fluoride?
Your child can use fluoride, though it is vital to understand how much they should be using and when they should begin. The CDC recommends that children use fluoride toothpaste at two years old. For children under 2, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of your dentist. Children under six should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and spit out the excess, and unless a dentist recommends it, they should avoid fluoride mouth rinses.
It is important to understand how much fluoride your child should consume. The National Institute of Health lists appropriate amounts recommended for children between 6 months and 16 years. Based on their recommendations, children should use the following:
- 1.2-1.6 mg for infants and toddlers younger than four years
- 2.0-2.2 mg for children aged 4-11 years
- 2.4 mg for those aged 11-14 years
- 2.9 mg for adults
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that parents use breast milk, ready-to-feed formula, or prepared formula with fluoride-free water to prevent potential enamel fluorosis, even if their child does not have visible teeth yet.
Is It Safe To Use Fluoride?
Like many things, using fluoride excessively can be harmful. However, in many cases, this overuse will only result in unwanted cosmetic issues. According to the ADA, for someone to experience actual fluoride toxicity, they would need to consume 5 liters of water per kilogram of body weight.
If you have a well-filtered water system in your home, you should be able to safely consume your home’s drinking water without fear of excess fluoride. If you are unsure about your home’s water filtration system, it is best to purchase test strips. However, it is safe to continue using fluoride in dental products and drinking water.
General Dentistry With Mills River Dentistry
Our dentistry office seeks to help patients of all ages have the best oral health possible. To maintain our patient’s oral health, we teach proper brushing and flossing techniques, recommend regular dental appointments, and eating healthy food. Mills River Dentistry offers various dental services, including fluoride treatments to protect your teeth’s enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Our dentists can advise on whether fluoride treatments can help you improve your oral health, what must be done to prevent demineralization, and recommended dental appointment timelines. If you have questions about fluoride use or would like to schedule an appointment with our office, fill out a form on our website.