Fluoride

Last Updated: Thursday, 21 January 2021

Fluoride

 

What is Fluoride?  

  • Fluoride is a mineral that is found all around us in small amounts. It is very effective in protecting teeth against decay.
  • Public health experts have known for many years that fluoride protects teeth. Some parts of America had natural fluoride in their water and more than 50 years ago, dentists noticed that people living there had strong healthy teeth.

How does fluoride work?

  • We all have bacteria in our mouth all the time. Living off food in the mouth and produce acids as a waste product. These acids attack the teeth by dissolving the minerals in the tooth surface.
  • Luckily the minerals in the saliva which can help the tooth decay as it first starts, but the mending process needs fluoride to work properly.
  • Some water supplies contain enough fluoride to keep teeth healthy. This can happen naturally and can be adjusted to the concentration that would be correct for teeth. In Britain only 1 in 10 people get enough fluoride from water supply.
  • Most people get fluoride from toothpaste. Each pack of toothpaste should tell you the ppm (parts per million) of fluoride the toothpaste contains. Low fluoride being (around 500 ppm) or high dose being (1000 or 1500 ppm). You should use low dosage for children under 7.
  • For specific patients, dentists recommend they take extra fluoride in either tablet or drop form, or even as a varnish painted onto the teeth. These specific patients will only be the ones who suffer with very bad decay or an illness that will avoid any dental problems.
  • The fluoride concentration in water and toothpaste is completely safe. If there is fluoride in your local water supply, you can still use the toothpaste as well
  • There is just one thing to be careful with when using fluoride toothpaste with children. Up to the age of 7 children's are developing permanent teeth and too much fluoride can mark the teeth during this stage. During these times you should supervise the child while brushing, to make sure they are not swallowing the toothpaste and using the correct amount (recommended a pea size).

    What are the benefits to fluoride?

    • Fluoride helps the teeth stay healthy and strong.
    • Can help early decay.
    • You will need less dental treatment. (not so much time at the dentist!)
    • Healthy teeth look better than repaired teeth.
    • The food left on your teeth forms plaque which in long term will cause gum disease if it is not cleaned off regularly.
    • The bacteria in plaque produce acids which cause decay.
    • The tooth surface can be dissolved away by acids in food surfaces – this is called 'erosion'
    • Dental problems are best prevented by good oral hygiene. But you can also reduce any risks for your mouth by having sticky of acidic food and drink les often.
    • Labels sometimes hide what's in the product. Labels may say 'carbohydrates' rather than 'sugars' for example.
    • Some products may say 'no added sugars' even though they contain a lot of natural fruit sugar.
    • Products containing small amounts of sugars could be harmless if they also contain calcium.
    • There is no testing method to show how erosive food and drink are, so labels cannot answer this question for you.