If you grew up in the United States, you probably heard how important it was to brush with fluoridated toothpaste, drink fluoridated water, and perhaps even take fluoride pills. But how much do you know about fluoride, the mineral used to stop and prevent tooth decay?
Did you know, for example, that fluoride occurs naturally in water sources, although many communities add additional fluoride to their water supply? Or that certain foods, beverages, supplements and mouthwashes also contain fluoride?
Recently, there has been much discussion as to whether the benefits of fluoride outweigh any possible side effects. This discussion has led to many people seeking non-fluoridated toothpastes for themselves and their families. With all the benefits that fluoride has to offer, why would you even consider a fluoride-free toothpaste? Here are a few possible reasons …
Fluoride: the benefits
On the plus side, fluoride has been clinically shown to make teeth stronger, as well as more resistant to cavity-forming acids. That’s because when fluoride comes into contact with your teeth, it is absorbed into the enamel where it helps to replace the lost calcium and phosphorous that keeps your teeth hard and strong.
For those who are on well or other non-fluoridated water sources, fluoridated toothpastes add a little extra protection without the need for taking supplements or seeking fluoride treatments from dentists. All said, fluoride, when used correctly, is quite beneficial and safe to maintain good oral health.
Too much of a good thing
Of course, too much of any good thing isn’t always beneficial. With regards to fluoride, when you are exposed to too much, it can lead to dental fluorosis, a condition that causes discoloration in the form of brown or white spots on your teeth. Too much fluoride can also make your teeth feel rough. In fact, studies found that high levels of fluoride in municipal water supplies often end up staining peoples’ teeth. That’s why the American Dental Association recommends children under the age of six – who tend to swallow too much toothpaste –use a fluoride-free brand.
Those who are allergic to fluoride may want to choose a different kind of toothpaste. On the other hand, if you have a medical condition that puts you at risk of advanced tooth decay or gum disease, you may stand to benefit from sticking with a fluoride toothpaste. These conditions include:
- Dry mouth conditions caused by medical conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome (an immune disorder); or that result from medications such as allergy and asthma medications, antihistamines, anti-anxiety and high blood pressure drugs; as well as head and neck radiation treatments.
- Periodontitis (gum disease) that exposes teeth and tooth roots to bacteria.
- Crowns, bridges or braces, where there’s a risk for decay where the crown meets the underlying tooth structure or near or under the brackets of the orthodontic appliance.
- A history of cavities.
Your dentist can advise on whether switching toothpastes makes sense based on your current fluoride intake and what would be most beneficial to your health. In these cases, additional fluoride can be of great benefit in preventing tooth decay or more serious dental problems.
If you’re wondering what the best solution for you is when it comes to choosing the right toothpaste, consult with the dental specialists at Dedicated Dental. Since 2006, patients in the Las Vegas area have trusted us to care for their oral health. We provide gentle and thorough treatment for patients from age four and up at our office in Henderson, Nevada and we look forward to taking good care of your dental needs. For an appointment, call (702) 566-5509 to speak with one of our friendly office staff today!