You’re likely most familiar with fluoride because you have seen it in the list of toothpaste ingredients or heard about a fluoride treatment from your Dentist. But what is fluoride? You may have heard it’s great for your teeth, but what does it actually do? In this article, we’re discussing what you need to know about this mineral (yup, it’s a mineral), from its uses to the benefits - we have you covered!
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, plants, and soil. It’s even in your bones and teeth. The mineral comes from the element fluorine, which is also naturally occurring.
What is it used for?
Most commonly, fluoride is used to prevent cavities and tooth decay. You will find it in many kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes, and dental treatments.
Drinking water often has fluoride added in low concentrations. This is a way for communities to reduce tooth decay. According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, the presence of fluoride below two parts per million in drinking water can prevent dental cavities. As a result, drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities by about 25% in children and adults.
The Benefits of Fluoride
Fights Tooth Decay - Fluoride can help protect your teeth’s enamel. Enamel is the thin outer layer of your tooth and the hardest tissue in the human body. Enamel acts as a barrier and protects your teeth from foods that cause cavities and damaging acids. Fluoride protects your teeth and helps restore your enamel through remineralization, making the enamel more resistant to tooth decay.
Prevents Cavities in Developing Teeth - Fluoride has been found to strengthen and help prevent tooth decay before teeth even emerge from gums in infants and children. In addition, fluoride continues to help prevent cavities from developing once teeth surface due to its role in creating stronger enamel.
Keeps Bones and Teeth Strong - As mentioned above, fluoride plays a significant role in mineralization. Nearly 99% of the body’s fluoride is in bones and teeth. Our bodies naturally go through the process of demineralization, then remineralize to keep our bones and teeth strong. The mineral fluoride is an essential part of this process and works to keep bones and teeth strong.
Stops Bacterial Growth - Fluoride can reduce the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay because of fluoride’s lower ph levels. The ph levels create an acidic environment, making it harder for bacteria to survive.
Is it Safe?
If you use fluoride as directed, it’s a safe and effective way to prevent tooth decay. However, occasionally consuming too much fluoride while your teeth are forming can lead to fluorosis, which causes non-harmful white spots to occur on teeth.
In addition, if you do consume too much, it can be toxic. The toxicity level varies by your weight, but it’s not easy to reach toxic levels of fluoride. In fact, the minimum dose that could cause toxic signs and symptoms has been set at 5 mg/kg body weight. Since children weigh less, they are more at risk for intoxication - which again, is not likely. Because of this, out of an abundance of caution, keep any toothpastes or other fluoride supplements out of reach of children and only use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush.
The Final Verdict
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is highly effective at combating tooth decay. You can find it in dental products and public water throughout the United States. We recommend brushing your teeth 2x a day with fluoride toothpaste and our brushes to prevent cavities and fight decay!
Written by Mouthwatchers, LLC Staff - October 2021