All About Fluoride for Your Oral Health
Fluoride is the single most significant environmental factor known to protect against tooth decay. It’s beneficial in your water, in your toothpaste and in treatments from your dentist.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in the earth, in water and even in the air. It slows down the demineralization of the enamel on your teeth and also increases the rate of remineralization of teeth at the early stage of cavities. So basically, it helps to keep your enamel strong and it prevents cavities.
Fluoride was first introduced to a water supply in 1945. Since then, it has improved the oral health of tens of millions of people across the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that community water fluoridation is one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. Today, over 70 percent of Americans have fluoride in their drinking water, and dental cavities have been greatly reduced over the years because of that.
Fluoride can also be found in your toothpaste. The first ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste was released in the 1950’s, and because of its success in preventing cavities, 95 percent of toothpaste sold today contains fluoride.
Professional fluoride treatments are a standard practice in dentist offices for children and even adults. After your teeth are cleaned, the hygienist will either paint fluoride on your teeth or fill a tray with the flavored compound for you to bite into. You’ll be advised not to eat or drink for 30 minutes so the compound can adhere to your teeth.
Of course, there are risks associated with ingesting too much fluoride, which is why toothpaste should always be used as directed and never swallowed. Kids under the age of two should not use fluoridated toothpaste, and kids under six should use a pea size amount and be supervised while brushing their teeth.
Swallowing more than a pea size amount every day increases their risk of dental fluorosis, a condition that leads to brown stains on teeth. Swallowing larger amounts of toothpaste can also be linked to gastrointestinal problems. The lethal dose of fluoride for a 45 pound child is 655 milligrams, and one would have to consume more than four tubes of toothpaste to reach that level.
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