Fluoride – What is it and Why is it so Important?

Fluoride – What is it and Why is it so Important?

Have you ever read an article in a paper talking about fluoride? Seen an advert for toothpaste and wondered what it’s all about? Well, we thought we’d share with you why we are so interested in fluoride and such big fans of it!

Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in drinking water and in many foods, for example in fish and tea. Levels can vary in tap water according to the area you live in. Only some places in the UK have enough fluoride present naturally in their water supply, for places where the levels are not sufficient it is sometimes added by the water companies. Fluoridation of water has been researched for decades and it has been proved that ensuring adequate levels reduces dental decay by 40-50%! In our region there is no added fluoride.

Fluoride can help your dental health as it makes your teeth more resistant to decay (by strengthening the enamel covering the teeth and reducing acid produced by bacteria in your mouth). It has been shown that children who have fluoridated water have shallower grooves in their teeth – this means that it is easier to brush away plaque.

In addition to fluoride in your drinking water, a very effective way to get fluoride is to use a fluoride toothpaste. Most now contain fluoride and this is usually enough to prevent decay – it basically just gives us that extra protection!

dental advice in lincolnshire dentist

So which toothpaste should you use?

Most contain fluoride now but all children under 3 years should use a toothpaste which contains 1000ppm (this means parts per million and will be labelled on the toothpaste). After 3 they should use a toothpaste which contains 1350ppm. It is important that until the age of 7 years a parent should supervise tooth brushing and teach your child that they only need a small amount of paste on their brush – the size of a pea is the recommended amount.

For adults and children, it is important to spit after brushing and not to rinse (or use a mouthwash) as this rinsing washes away all that lovely protection.

Finally, for some patients we may recommend a higher strength (prescription) toothpaste for extra protection. Your dentist may also recommend a fluoride varnish that either he or the hygienist will apply to reduce tooth decay. If you want to know more about these treatments please don’t hesitate to ask!

Are there any side effects of fluoride?

If you are giving fluoride supplements to your child in an area where the water has already been fluoridated then they may develop dental fluorosis. This appears as flecks or lines on the surface of the teeth – usually only spotted by the dentist or hygienist. If the dental fluorosis is more severe then the patient’s enamel may become discoloured or pitted – however this is very rare. Please follow instructions on packaging and consult your dentist before giving Fluoride to your child as more is not necessarily better.

Is fluoride safe?

Despite claims from people who are anti-fluoride studies have not found any evidence that fluoride added to water causes harmful side effects.

So, in a nutshell….

  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Spit out after brushing – don’t rinse
  • Do not use mouthwash straight after brushing
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