What Is Fluoride Used For On Teeth And Why?

We often see toothpaste commercials where dental companies take pride in presenting fluoride as one of the constituents of their products. Many countries add fluoride to their community drinking water considering its health benefits. 

But what is fluoride, and how does it affect oral and physical health? If you want an answer to this question, you are in the right place. This blog will discuss everything you need about fluoride and its role in keeping our teeth strong and healthy. So, continue reading to learn more. 

What Is Fluoride And Why Is It Important To Dental Health?

According to the NHS, fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts – depending on one’s location in the UK. Adding appropriate amounts of fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste, and food supplements offers many health benefits. However, care must be taken to avoid adding excessive fluoride levels, as it can also adversely affect the body. 

What Is The Role Of Fluoride In Dental Care?

According to the British Fluoridation Society, fluoride incorporation offers many dental health benefits. For example, fluoride helps strengthen our teeth and makes them more resistant to tooth decay. Furthermore, the antibacterial action of fluoride prevents harmful bacteria from growing in the oral cavity and causing disease. A recent research showed that children and young adults exposed to fluoridated community water were 63% less likely to be admitted to the hospital for dental extractions than those who didn’t have community water fluoridation. So, fluoride is effective in preventing tooth decay and also helps make teeth strong and healthy. 

What Is Fluoride In Toothpaste? Is It Safe To Use?

A fluoride toothpaste is one that contains fluoride. Fluoride is added to toothpaste due to its inherent remineralisation and anti-bacterial effect. Fluoride enters our teeth and chemically combines with the tooth constituents to make them strong. Furthermore, fluoride has an inherent ant-bacterial effect. This means that fluoride toothpaste also helps prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria in the oral cavity. 

Is The Fluoride In Your Toothpaste Good For You?

Excess of everything is bad. Similarly, when exposed to the right amount of fluoride, our teeth will become strong and cavity-resistant. On the other hand, too much fluoride exposure can lead to various complications. For example, people exposed to very high fluoride levels during tooth development suffer from fluorosis. This is a condition where the tooth enamel is fragile, and the teeth have a brownish shade due to staining. Unfortunately, this staining is permanent and cannot be fixed with whitening. Instead, dentists place veneers on these teeth to treat aesthetic problems. 

Should I Use a Fluoride Or Fluoride-Free Toothpaste?

It is better to ask your dentist whether fluoride or non-fluoride toothpaste suits you. Basically, it all depends on your daily fluoride dose. If your daily fluoride dose is met through water fluoridation or dietary sources, you don’t need fluoride-containing toothpaste. On the other hand, if you don’t get sufficient fluoride doses from other sources, your dentist or hygienist may recommend using fluoride toothpaste. 

What Are The Benefits And Risks Of Fluoride In Toothpaste?

The benefits of fluoride toothpaste include:

  • Decreased risk of tooth decay 
  • Stronger teeth 
  • Antibacterial action 

On the other hand, the main risk of fluoride toothpaste is fluorosis, caused by ingestion of high levels of fluoride during tooth development. However, the good news is that very severe fluorosis is rare in the UK. This is because the water fluoride levels are carefully monitored throughout the UK. 

Another drawback of fluoride is the risk of fluoride toxicity when ingested in large quantities by children. In heavy doses, fluoride is considered as a toxin. If ingested by kids, it can cause systemic complications. That is why, dentists recommend that one should spit the fluoride toothpaste after brushing instead of ingesting it to avoid adverse effects. 

Are Fluoride Treatments Safe For Toddlers?

Fluoride is a known toxic agent when ingested or swallowed in large doses. That is why, many toothpaste packages contain labels saying, “Keep away from children”. This is because toddlers’ accidental ingestion of fluoride toothpaste can cause serious systemic effects, sometimes requiring emergency medical treatment. Therefore, fluoride toothpaste should be kept away from kids, especially toddlers. For adolescents and teenagers, the dose of fluoride, even after ingesting an entire toothpaste, is insufficient to cause any adverse effects. 

Is Dentist Fluoride Treatment Necessary?

Besides toothpaste, dentists also perform other procedures to strengthen the teeth. For example, dentists use fluoride varnishes that are applied to the teeth. The fluoride from these varnish gets penetrated into the teeth and restores the optimal fluoride levels. During this procedure, your dentist will ask you to bite on the upper and lower custom trays containing the varnish for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, the trays are removed, and the patient is asked to rinse their mouth with water. 

Despite the adverse effects of fluoride, its benefits outweigh its risks. However, one should visit an experienced and qualified dentist if they seek fluoride therapy. If you are looking for a safe and reliable dental practice in Watford and the suburbs, Senova Dental should be your first choice. We offer the highest-quality dental services in town at affordable rates and in a comfortable environment. So, book an appointment with us today, and let us look after the oral health of your entire family. We look forward to seeing you at our office. 


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