What is Fluoride and How Does it Help Me?

Take a stroll down any toothpaste aisle and you will find an assortment of products containing fluoride.  Although it is widely recommended by dental professionals, it continues to be a hot topic for those against it. Here’s a brief explanation of fluoride and how it can benefit you.

Fluoride is an element found naturally in almost every corner of the globe’s water and soil.  It can also be made in laboratories and added to drinking water and toothpastes because of its ability to help form strong teeth.

Since the 1930s, scientists have been studying the effects of fluoride on tooth decay and found that people who grew up in areas with slightly higher levels of this common mineral in the water had substantially less decay.  Fluoride in water is absorbed by your body and used by the cells that build your teeth to make stronger enamel (the hard outer shell of your tooth).

It is most important while your teeth are developing.  Once your teeth are fully formed, fluoride that is applied to the outside of your teeth helps keep the enamel layer strong and fight off plaque acids and foods that are known to destroy enamel.

The goal of regulating fluoride in drinking water is to MONITOR and ADJUST the fluoride levels so that they are consistent and optimal.

Here’s what agencies worldwide say about fluoridated water:

The ADA says that fluoridation of community water supplies is only an adjustment of the naturally-occurring fluoride levels in drinking water to an ideal level recommended by the US Public Health Service – 0.7 to 1.2 parts per million. The aim being to prevent tooth decay. “Water that has been fortified with fluoride is similar to fortifying milk with Vitamin D, table salt with iodine, and bread and cereals with folic acid“.

The National Health Service (NHS), UK, quoted a UK study which compared levels of tooth decay among very young children in areas where drinking water was not fluoridated to those living in areas where fluoridation occurred. The researchers found that there was 60% less tooth decay among the children living in the fluoridated water areas.

 According to Health Canada “The optimal concentration of fluoride in drinking water for dental health has been determined to be 0.7 mg/L for communities who wish to fluoridate. This concentration provides optimal dental health benefits and is well below the MAC to protect against adverse effects.” (“What is fluoride?” 2009)

Even though fluoride is a great product for preventing decay, its benefits will be limited by poor dental hygiene, snacking on sugary foods and drinking soda/energy drinks on a regular basis.  Not sure you are getting the recommended fluoride for your lifestyle?  The best time to discuss this is when you come in for your next cleaning and checkup!



What is fluoride? what does fluoride do?. (2009, June 16th). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154164.php