Fluoride – Should you use it?

The world of dentistry has long debated whether fluoride is beneficial to oral health. Whilst there is opinion that fluoride is not necessary, there is overwhelming evidence that when it is used correctly, fluoride is a benefit to oral health and it does help to prevent cavities.

So what is fluoride?

It’s a natural mineral found in soil, water and foods. Its synthetic form is used in drinking water and oral hygiene products we all use like mouthwash and toothpaste, floss, fillings, gels, varnishes and dental cement. Fluoride prevents tooth decay by between 20 and 40 percent in patients of all age groups. This means that both time and money is saved on expensive treatments to tackle decay and damage to teeth.

Mains water with fluoride

In order to help reduce dental problems, mains water is treated with fluoride in many areas of the country. A study proved that this resulted in children having 35 percent fewer decayed, missing or filled teeth – and a 15 percent increase in children with no decay in their baby teeth.

How does fluoride work?

It makes enamel more resistant to acid and reduces the ability of bacteria in plaque to produce acid. This both protects the teeth and strengthens them.

What risks are there from using fluoride?

Moderation is always the guide. It is not wise to use too much. We don’t have to worry about that when it comes to our water supply, because it is monitored to ensure supplies are within safe limits.

Over-use can create white spots or streaks on the teeth which will disappear over time. These are not actually harmful but they can be unsightly and prompt cosmetic dental procedures.

Small amounts of fluoride are unlikely to be dangerous and over 100 national and international health and other organizations recognize the benefits of adding a safe amount of fluoride to water and dental products.

Given that the benefits outweigh the risks, fluoride should be considered a good addition to your daily routine, but if you are in any doubt, simply consult your dentist.

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