Fluoride has recently received some bad press due to alleged health risks. This has caused some major controversy with some patients refusing to use fluoride products. At St.James Dental, we feel that fluoride is crucial to maintaining healthy teeth especially in children, so we have put together some key information for your benefit.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally found in water. The amount of fluoride in water varies depending on where you live in the UK. Fluoride protects teeth by making them stronger and more resistant to tooth decay. In addition, it encourages teeth to repair faster following early damage. It is added to the majority of branded toothpastes and mouthwashes, and in some areas of the UK is added to the water supply through a process called fluoridation.
Brushing your teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste is one of the most effective ways of preventing tooth decay. A range of toothpastes are available that contain different levels of fluoride. The amount of fluoride in toothpaste can be found on the side of the tube and is measured in parts per million (ppm). Toothpastes containing 1,500ppm fluoride are the most effective. Your dentist may advise a higher-strength toothpaste if you or your child is at particular risk of tooth decay.
- Children under 3 years oldshould brush twice daily, with a smear of toothpaste containing at least 1,000ppm fluoride.
- Children between 3 and 6 years oldshould brush at least twice daily with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing more than 1,000ppm fluoride.
- Adultsshould brush at least twice daily with a toothpaste containing 1,500ppm fluoride.
Fluoride mouthwashes are another way of protecting your teeth, but remember not to use them the same time as brushing.
Why it’s Safe
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm that both the safety and benefits of fluoride are well documented. There has never been any scientific evidence linking fluoride to adverse health effects. In fact, the evidence consistently shows that fluoride is safe and effective in the amount your toothpaste and household tap would provide. Rest assured none of the following common concerns have any connection to fluoride; Allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, Cancer, Down syndrome, Heart disease, Low intelligence, Osteoporosis or Renal (kidney) disorders.
Fluoride is safe in appropriate doses, but like anything else, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. After decades of research, the main risk associated to excess fluoride is dental fluorosis, a cosmetic condition that kids can develop if they’re exposed to too much fluoride when they’re young.
The teeth can develop white spots or lines, and in severe cases become brown or grey. This typically occurs when children swallow fluoride toothpaste, which is why it’s important to only use a smear, and supervise them while they’re brushing to encourage them to spit out.
Fluoride plays a key role in the health of your teeth, and now you know why.Back to Blog