FLuoride Facts and MythsBy Dr Anthony Hua
Fluoride is a mineral occurring naturally in everything from teeth and bones to soil and water. It’s commonly used by dentists to help strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay and is also added to public water sources throughout the world. Despite its popularity, there’s still a lot of controversy and debate regarding fluoride and its effects. Separating fact from fiction can sometimes be difficult, so we have compiled a list of common facts and myths below.
FACT: Fluoride Strengthens Your Teeth
The mineral composition of fluoride can help strengthen tooth enamel and delay mineral loss, especially after we eat foods containing carbohydrates or sugars. Fluoride can even prevent the growth of unwelcome bacteria in your mouth.
MYTH: Fluoride Can Impact Your Health
There’s long been speculation that fluoride can cause cancer, bone fractures, or arthritis, but there is currently very little or weak scientific evidence to support this. Organisations dedicated to bone health, such as Arthritis Australia and Osteoporosis Australia, endorse the fluoridation of water.
FACT: Fluoride Will Cause White Spots On Your Teeth
Dental fluorosis is the name of the condition that causes changes in the appearance of the tooth enamel. Most dental fluorosis cases range from very mild to mild, causing the white spots on the surface of the tooth. These white spots are usually barely noticeable and do not generally affect dental function. They are caused by the consumption of too much fluoride while the teeth are still developing under the gums, occurring in children aged eight years and under. Children of this age are also likely to swallow toothpaste rather than spit it out. To prevent dental fluorosis in children, it is important to ensure that they are guided and supervised in their oral hygiene practices, age-specific toothpaste is used and to ensure they spit and rinse after brushing, rather than swallow the toothpaste.
It is important to also note that only children aged eight years and younger are at risk of developing dental fluorosis because this is when their permanent teeth are developing. Children older than eight years, adolescents and adults cannot develop dental fluorosis. Like many other conditions, the severity of dental fluorosis is dependent on the dose (how much), duration (how long) and timing (when consumption began) of fluoride consumption.
MYTH: Water fluoridation is expensive
Fluoridation of water is an economical way of preventing tooth decay within the community, which cost less than dental procedures to treat decay and enamel erosion to individuals within communities without fluoridated water.
FACT: Fluoridation prevents tooth decay
Drinking water containing fluoride has been found to prevent tooth decay. In a study conducted in two adjoining communities in Arkansas, USA, it was found that those residents who did not have access to fluoridated water developed twice as many cavities as those who drank water containing fluoride.
MYTH: Because toothpaste already contains fluoride, fluoridated water is not necessary
Research has found that the amount of fluoride contained in toothpaste alone is not enough to protect against tooth decay. Combining fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water ensures that teeth are less at risk of developing decay and disease.
FACT: Fluoride is safe for everyone
Some people worry that fluoridated water or toothpaste is not safe for children, but water fluoridation, coupled with fluoride toothpaste, provides the dental protection required to maintain healthy oral hygiene. In communities that do not have access to fluoridated water, Paediatricians and Dentists can sometimes recommend fluoride tablets or drops to children.
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Article by Dr Anthony Hua – Principal Dentist
Dr Anthony Hua is the Founder & Principal Dentist at Burleigh Dental Studio. His passion, expertise and dedication to the field of dentistry have been recognised by his achievement of Fellowship status with the Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID) and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI).
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