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Fluoride: The good and the bad

fluoride and water

This month’s blog is all about fluoride. Fluoride sometimes (unfairly) gets a bad wrap. But it does have advantages and disadvantages, so if you’d like to know more about how fluoride, in the right quantities, helps keep your teeth healthy, then read on below.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance which strengthens and protects our teeth and bones. In many countries, including Australia, fluoride is added to drinking water and is present in many dental hygiene products.

While some groups argue against the use of fluoride, if used correctly there is no reason it should cause you or your family any harm.

What are the risks?

When used correctly, fluoride is highly beneficial in dental care. However, like many other beneficial substances, too much fluoride can be detrimental, in the same way that an overdose of Vitamin C or even too much water can be harmful.

So, how much is too much?

The World Health Organisation recommends no more than 1.5mg of fluoride per litre, which Australia currently recommends in its Australian Drinking Water Guidelines. Around 70% of the Australian population currently has access to fluoridated water.

Fluoride is also present in many dental products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and dental floss, as well as trace elements of fluoride found in food, water, soil, rocks and air. In some places naturally high and unsafe levels of fluoride occur in ground water. When too much fluoride is taken in there are some detrimental effects which can occur.

The most common risk associated with fluoride is Fluorosis.

Dental Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis is a discolouration of tooth enamel caused by over-mineralisation from excessive fluoride exposure. Dental Fluorosis damage tends to occur while teeth are still developing, in the first 8 years of life, which makes it very important to monitor fluoride intake levels in young children.

Dental fluorosis is a cosmetic problem, so while it leads to  discolouration, which presents as white patches or streaks on your teeth, or sometimes brown marks, teeth will still be strong and healthy.

Skeletal fluorosis

Skeletal fluorosis is a bone disease brought on by excessive exposure to fluoride. It eventually causes bones to become hard and brittle, making them more prone to factures and breakages and may also lead to stiff joints.

Skeletal fluorosis is highly unlikely to occur from normal dental processes and drinking water.  It is most prevalent in India and China where there can be very high naturally occurring levels of fluoride in the groundwater, along with other factors like industrial exposure, which can lead to a higher prevalence of skeletal fluorosis.

Other potential problems which may be associated with fluoride include:

·       Hyperthyroidism

·       Neurological problems

·       Skin problems such as acne

·       Cardiovascular issues

·       Bone and joint issues including osteoarthritis

It is important to remember that a normal, safe amount of fluoride will have ABSOLUTELY NO ILL EFFECTS on your health.  And it will have plenty of positive ones.

What are the benefits?

While its misuse may lead to unwanted side effects, safe and controlled use of fluoride is highly beneficial for your teeth. It strengthens teeth and aids repairs to help avoid cavities.

Simply by brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and by drinking fluoridated water you can gain the following benefits:

Enamel remineralisation: when your tooth enamel loses minerals, it becomes weakened and more prone to cavities. Fluoride swoops in and re-mineralises your tooth enamel, depositing calcium and other minerals to strengthen the enamel.

Decay: fluroide reduces the early signs of tooth decay and reduces the growth of certain bacteria

Acid control: fluoride increases the ability of your teeth to fight off acid attack

Improved enamel quality: fluoride taken when our teeth are still developing in early childhood helps create stronger enamel which is more resistant to  demineralisation.

Who should use fluoride?

No matter what stage of life you’re at, everyone can benefit from fluoride. It is so easy to keep your fluoride intake up and give your teeth a healthy boost. You can keep your fluoride levels up by:

·       Brushing your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste

·       Drinking fluoridated water, if available

·       Taking fluoride supplements if fluoridated water is not readily available

·       Having a fluoride treatment at your dentist.

While it’s recommended everyone makes fluoride part of their dental health routine, it is particularly important if any of the following apply to you:

·       If you are prone to or have a history of cavities and tooth decay

·       If you have a diet high in sugar

·       If you have limited access to dental services

·       If you’ve had dental procedures such as braces or crowns.

Fluoride plays a key role in the health of your teeth, and now that you know of its importance, you can include it in your oral care habits.

If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to talk to us at your next Jannali Dental Care appointment.  We are here to help you because the quality of your oral hygiene is SO important to your overall health and well-being.

Call us anytime on 95289204 for a checkup or to discuss any dental concerns!

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