Explaining Fluoride: What is it? How Does it Assist in Good Oral Health?
Fluoride is an essential mineral that helps keep your teeth and bones strong. It’s found in the water that you drink and in foods we eat, including vegetables, fruits and seafood. Fluoride isn’t a drug or medicine, but rather a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to prevent cavities by strengthening teeth and preventing decay. You’d also probably recognize it as a key ingredient of most toothpaste because it’s essential for good dental health.
In this article, we’ll talk about what fluoride is and how it works in your body so you can understand why it’s crucial for good dental health. We’ll also cover some useful tips on how to use fluoride toothpaste correctly!
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent cavities. It’s found in the earth’s crust, water and soil, as well as in various foods and drinks. Many countries, including Australia, have fluoride in their water supply too, so every time you drink water from the tap, you intake a level of fluoride. Governments choose to do this as a way of preventing tooth decay in the population, something that is more important than ever considering the amount of sugary food and drinks people regularly consume in the modern world.
What does fluoride do?
Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay, strengthens enamel and prevents cavities. It does this by making it more difficult for bacteria to stick to your teeth. When you eat or drink foods that contain sugars, these sugars get converted into acids by bacteria in your mouth. The acid attacks the surface of your teeth, leading to cavities, erosion of enamel and a range of dental health problems.
The reason why fluoride works so well is that it makes the outer layer of our teeth less soluble in water. This means there’s less space for bacteria to attach themselves to.
Where do we get fluoride?
In Australia, fluoride can be found in our water supply as well as food and drinks. It’s also added to toothpaste, mouthwash and other dental products. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends fluoridating water supplies with 0.6 to 1.1 milligrams of fluoride per litre. So, every sip of water you take from the tap includes a small amount of fluoride to help maintain your dental health.
It’s important to understand that some kinds of toothpaste do not include fluoride. In some circles, people believe that fluoride is bad for us, but there is no scientific basis for this theory. So, when choosing your toothpaste, ensure that it has fluoride included.
The only time that it may be suggested you don’t use fluoride toothpaste is if you suffer from fluorosis. This is a condition caused by over-exposure to fluoride as a child. It’s more of a cosmetic issue that may cause white spots or lines to develop on your teeth. However, it is still something to be mindful of if you want a healthy smile.
How much fluoride does a human body need?
The amount of fluoride in your body depends on your age, diet and other factors like the type of toothpaste you use. Typically, there are recommendations for different age groups, as detailed below. Remember, these suggestions are about how much fluoride you should get from toothpaste. You will still get fluoride from water and certain foods.
- Babies up to 18 months: No fluoride.
- Children 18 months to 5 years: Only a small amount of toothpaste containing 0.40 – 0.55 mg/g of fluoride.
- Children over 6, teenagers and adults: Standard amount of toothpaste containing 1mg/g of fluoride.
It’s important to note that if you are at risk of dental issues for some reason, such as poor diet or lack of fluoridated water, you may be required to use toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride.
The importance of using fluoride toothpaste
If you’re wondering why fluoride is so important, it’s because it keeps your teeth strong and healthy.
We’re fortunate in Australia because our water is fluoridated. However, the amount in our water isn’t enough to maintain proper oral health. That’s why fluoride toothpaste is recommended.
It’s crucial to get enough fluoride because it prevents bacteria from settling on your teeth. Without it, you would have more bacteria, starch, sugars and acids on the surface of your teeth. This leads to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease and practically every dental health issue you can name. So, let’s look at the major benefits of using fluoride.
The benefits of fluoride for dental health
There are a number of benefits to fluoride for dental health. We’ve touched on most of these benefits throughout the article, but here’s a snapshot for you.
- Fluoride strengthens teeth, making them more resistant to decay and cavities.
- Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the surface of your teeth less acidic and more alkaline so that bacteria cannot grow on them as easily. Additionally, it helps remineralise areas where minerals have been lost from your teeth due to acid erosion or injury.
- Fluoride helps prevent gum disease by reducing inflammation in gums and strengthening the connective tissue between teeth and gums. This means fewer spaces that plaque can build up.
Remember, though, that fluoride is only one part of maintaining good oral health. Brushing, flossing, keeping a healthy diet and regularly visiting your dentist are all required to keep your mouth healthy.
Need a regular checkup with your dentist in Parramatta?
If you’re concerned about a lack of fluoride or are having trouble with your teeth, it’s important to visit your dentist. As a leading dentist in Parramatta, we’re here to help you maintain great oral health for the whole family. We’ve created a safe, welcoming environment where everybody can feel comfortable, even if they’re worried about seeing a dentist. It’s never too late to get your dental health back on track. Contact Parramatta Dental Avenue to find out how we can help.