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Fluoride: Fact vs Myth

Everything you need to know about fluoride and your oral health

Fluoride, or Sodium Fluoride, is a natural mineral and the key ingredient found in toothpastes and other dental products such as mouthwash, that works to protect your teeth. Why does this happen? Bacteria in the mouth mixes with sugars from foods and drinks to make acids. These acids weaken teeth causing tooth decay. Fluoride steps up to help protect teeth against acid attacks and can reverse early stages of tooth decay. At River Oaks Dental in Jacksonville FL 32217, we strive to ensure our patients understand what will help them achieve excellent oral health. 

Let’s take a look at some facts and debunk myths about fluoride:

Fact: Fluoride can be ingested naturally and daily without us even realizing it.

This is true! Fluoride can be found in the tap water we drink but not in bottled water. Fluoride from water has been proven to significantly impact teeth since War World II. Fluoride can be found in other drinks we ingest such as tea.  Sometimes fluoride is found in the local water supply naturally, and other times cities and towns add fluoride at water processing plants. 

Myth: Ingesting large amounts of fluoride is not an issue.

This is false! Excess levels of fluoride ingested during tooth development may lead to fluorosis – a condition that causes changes in the appearance of tooth enamel. Mild forms of fluorosis may appear as white spots or fine chalk-like lines while more severe forms will cause the formation of pit-like surfaces on tooth structure.

Fact: Fluoride helps to strengthen teeth in adults with medical conditions such as acid reflux, autoimmune disease, diabetes, and more.

This is true! When the amount of acid in the mouth is greater than the amount of fluoride or saliva, there is a larger chance for the development of cavities. Fluoride works to fight against harmful acidic environments to protect the teeth.  It is helpful and safe for all patients, but especially helpful for patients who are prone to cavities.

Myth: Fluoride is never safe for children under the age of 12.

This is false! Fluoride is necessary for children of all ages. It has also been proven that children who use fluoride have healthier teeth as adults. This is because children begin to lose their primary teeth at around the age of 6. Once their baby teeth have fallen out, the permanent teeth that erupt are the teeth that they will have for the rest of their lives. The amount of fluoride toothpaste applied on a child’s toothbrush is what should be considered. Children ages 0-3 should only use about a rice-sized about of paste while children ages 3+ should use about a pea-sized amount of paste.  

In summary, fluoride is a safe way to prevent tooth decay and helps patients maintain good oral health in between annual dental visits. Fluoride in your toothpaste is just one method of fluoride application. Topical varnishes can also be applied to the teeth at any dental visit; these varnishes are professional grade and serve as an extra form of protection. Visit the River Oaks Dental website to read more about cavity prevention options and call us at 904.384.0416 to schedule your next visit with Dr. Rachel Monteiro.

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