Did you know that more than 60% of households in the United States have fluoridated water. This number is so huge is mostly dependent on the CDC’s decision to ensure high water fluoridation levels prioritize, preventing cavities.
Due to its healing characteristics, fluoride is commonly found in varnishes and gels used at the dentist’s office and is also a common ingredient in mouth rinses and toothpaste.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral commonly found in bones, teeth, water, plants, soil, air, and rocks. It is used to strengthen enamel and help prevent teeth cavities. It helps in improving overall dental health and is an excellent defense against cavities. Dentist recommends using mouth rinse and toothpaste with fluoride for cavity-struck patients.
Most people don’t know that the discovery of fluoride happened by accident. It was found by Fredrick McKay when he moved to Colorado Springs in 1901. It took him and his team 30 years to realize that people of Colorado had gross-looking but healthy teeth. After careful observation and research, he identified that Colorado people have access to naturally occurring fluoridated water. In 1945, based on all the evidence, Grand Rapids, Michigan, became the first city to fluoridate its water. Numerous studies were conducted on Grand Rapids residents’ oral health conditions, and the results were astonishing. It was found that fluoridated water dropped the oral cavity rates among children by 60%. This influenced other states in the United States to fluoridate their water as well.
One of the most common dental issues fluorides helps prevent dental plaque. Did you know? Bacteria in our teeth can form microcolonies, which can lead to dental plaque formation. The outer enamel of our teeth is called hydroxyapatite, which prevents bacteria from entering the teeth. However, if the bacteria are not taken care of, it can overgrow and generate an acid causing hydroxyapatite to break down. Not only will the bacteria enter your teeth, but your tooth will also be weakened, causing permanent oral damage, also known as a cavity. You need to consult a dentist; otherwise, the bacteria will start infecting the root causing you severe pain.
In this case, using fluoride on your teeth can provide an extra layer of protection to your teeth. The fluoride can replace hydroxyapatite with fluorapatite, which is less soluble and much denser than hydroxyapatite; therefore, it requires a stronger acid to demineralize.
Once the hydroxyapatite breaks down, the fluoride can bond stronger with your tooth minerals forming crystals. These crystals are more stable and require a stronger acid to demineralize. These crystals have better resistance to acid ensuring your teeth have better protection from bacteria and less susceptible to plaque.
How Well Do Fluoride Treatments Work?
Experts and researchers have questioned fluoride treatments, time and again. However, some studies advocate the potential benefits of fluoride treatments. A study focusing on the effect of fluoridation of drinking waters showed that concentrated fluoride water reduces 35% of tooth decay issues in babies and a 26% reduction in permanent teeth. Another study exploring fluoride varnish’s effect on baby teeth showed a 43% reduction of tooth decay in permanent teeth and 37% in tooth decay. A third study focused on fluoride gel treatments showed a 26% tooth decay reduction among kids.
Studies also indicate that toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride has more substantial effects and shows significant improvements in preventing tooth decay. It was also noted that a higher frequency of tooth brushing and supervised brushing also leads to better overall dental health. The table below shows the suitable concentration of fluoride on children’s teeth over six years old.
Reduction in Tooth Decay
|0.1% – 0.125%||23%|
|0.24% – 0.28%||36%|
Things to Know
The use of fluoride has always been a controversial topic in the dental care domain. While many studies advocate the use of fluoride in teeth, some studies are addressing its toxicity. Research indicated that fluoride could be toxic if the doses are well over their recommended concentration. One of the common concerns with using fluoride has generally been Fluorosis.
Despite popular belief, fluorosis is not a severe medical condition or a disease but a cosmetic condition caused due to overexposure to fluoride. The condition is relatively common among kids and adolescents in some form. Only 4% of the United States population have reported severe fluorosis leading to teeth browning and staining.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance used in many dental care procedures. It helps strengthen our teeth, providing better protection against cavities. It is also added to the local water supplies of many cities in the United States. If this information made sense to you, we recommend visiting our dental care center in Goose Creek, SC, and meeting one of our dentists for a free consultation. At Huch Family Dentistry, we care about your health and, therefore, will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision. Take care, and stay healthy.