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fluoride helps and hurts oral health

How Fluoride Helps and Possibly Hurts Your Oral Health

Fluoride is one of the many minerals found in water and many types of foods. It also has an essential role in the remineralization of your teeth’s enamel and can interrupt the harmful production of acid on your teeth. While it is important to be aware of how fluoride contributes to your oral health, you should also know of the ways it may be harmful.

Fluoride for Better Oral Health

Early Development of Teeth

Recent research indicates children aged six months to 16 years with developing teeth can benefit from the exposure to fluoride, which can strengthen their growing teeth. Adults should also make sure that the dental products they use contains the right amount of fluoride as the mineral is just as important in combatting tooth decay.

Use of Certain Orthodontic Treatments

Treatments such as braces, bridges or crowns can expose the vulnerable parts of your teeth, putting them at risk of decay. Areas surrounding the brackets of orthodontic appliances, or where the crown touches the underlying tooth structure, can be breeding grounds for bacteria and should be treated with dental products containing fluoride.

Chronic Dry Mouth

Constantly having a dry mouth can be the result of some medical conditions, treatments, and medicine. Because there is a lack of saliva, it can be more difficult for your mouth to neutralize harmful acids and wash away small bits of food. Using dental products with fluoride, including toothpaste and mouthwashes, can help restore the pH of the mouth and remove the food particles that bacteria feeds on.

Fluoride as an Oral Health Hazard

Toxic Doses

Fluoride is only beneficial to your oral health when it is being used as directed. Toxic doses of fluoride will depend on a person’s weight and can result in significant health issues. Because it can be easier for younger children to consume extremely high doses of fluoride due to fluorinated water, their tendency to accidentally swallow toothpaste and the consumption of processed foods containing fluoride, it is necessary that they are carefully supervised, particularly when using dental products that contain fluoride.

Fluorosis

This condition typically occurs in children aged six months to 16 years. It creates streaks and specks on the teeth that can range from a hardly visible, whitish color to a very noticeable brown. Fluorosis does not cause pain, and in mild cases, may not impair the health of the teeth. In these situations, the main concern will be cosmetic. To have the marks removed, it will be necessary to have them treated with professional-grade abrasives and whiteners available only at your dentist’s office. For individuals who have moderate to severe cases of fluorosis, the concentration of fluoride on the teeth can be so high that the porosity of the enamel increases to the degree that the teeth become physically damaged and begin to crumble.

If you have concerns about fluoride and your teeth, or if your see white streaks on your children’s teeth, you should consult your dentist. You dentist will address any concerns you have about your oral health.

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