Caring For Your Teeth With Flouride

Posted on March 15, 2009 in Dental Articles

PictureWhy Fluoride is Important to Teeth?

Throughout the day, your teeth are exposed to acids released by bacteria found in plaque that can break down enamel (the outer layer) and lead to tooth decay. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can safely strengthen teeth to help prevent tooth decay and permanent tooth loss. More importantly, it helps restore the minerals that have been worn down and repair weak spots in the enamel. Amazingly, the new tooth material created by this rebuilding process is even more durable than the original. Fluoride is also especially beneficial for children because it becomes integrated with growing teeth and helps develop resistance to acids later in life.

Most People Don’t Get Enough Fluoride

You never stop needing fluoride. The simple truth is that most people – kids and adults alike – don’t get enough. Consider the facts:

  • 85% of all adults experience tooth decay
  • More than 60% of will loss permanent tooth due to cavities
  • The majority of bottled waters do not contain optimal levels of fluoride. And, some types of home water treatment systems can reduce the fluoride levels in water supplies

How can we Obtain Fluoride?

Frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride each day is the best way to reduce the risk for developing tooth decay. Drinking water is the most common vehicle for fluoride intake. In non-fluoridated drinking-water (i.e., drinking-water to which fluoride has not been intentionally added for the prevention of dental caries), the fluoride level can be dangerously high. The concentration of fluoride in fluoridated drinking-water (i.e., fluoride is intentionally added for the prevention of dental caries) generally ranges from 0.7-1.2 mg/litre. We can also obtain trace amounts of fluoride in foods, e.g. fish, tea leaves and breast milk.

PictureTopical fluoride is the next best alternative, which can be given in two forms: fluoridated toothpaste or topical fluoride given by a dental professional. Unless a dentist or other qualified health professional advises otherwise, fluoridated toothpaste should be introduced at around age of two. Excessive fluoride can cause yellowing of teeth, white spots, and pitting or motting of enamel, known as dental fluorosis. To prevent this, use a baby tooth cleanser on the toothbrush until your child is 2.5 years old, and place a pea-sized drop of children’s toothpaste on the toothbrush from age 2.5 to 8 years of age.Toothpaste should be dispensed in a pea-sized amount. Children should spit out the toothpaste after brushing but should not rinse with water. The small amount of fluoridated toothpaste that remains in the mouth helps prevent tooth decay.Professionally applied fluoride (via varnishes, gels, foams) renews the high levels of fluoride in superficial enamel. Topical fluoride may be especially effective for those children at high risk for dental caries becuase they lack fluoridated water, have a history of caries, snack frequently on foods high in sugar, or have a medical problem that decreases caries resistance. These treatments also enhance remineralization of early carious lesions. Topical fluoride treatments should be applied only by a dentist or toher qualified health professional.

Studies have indicated that in more than 90% of urban Chinese cities, including Shanghai, fluorine concentrations in drinkingwater are below levels recommended b y the WHO (approximately 0.5-1.0 mg/1). This includes the bottled drinking-water supplies to your home or office water dispensers. To ensure a healthy intake of fluoride, use fluoridated toothpaste, which are widely available in supermarkets, and supplement your pearly whites with a topical fluoride treat during your twice-a-year visit to the dentist.