What is fluoride and is it good for my teeth?

What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral which comes from a chemical ion of the element fluorine. Fluoride is found in many foods, drinking water and also it’s naturally found in our soil. The amount of fluoride that is in our water varies from different areas of the region, depending on where you are located. The amount of fluoride found in sea water averages around 1.3 ppm (parts per million).In fresh water supplies the natural range is normally between 0.01 to 0.3ppm, this is why extra fluoride is sometimes added. Fluoride is synthesized in laboratories, so it makes it easier to add if necessary, or to products which don’t naturally have this mineral, such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and various other products.

Why is fluoride added?

Research has proven that fluoride improves dental health when added to water supplies, and other products. It works by increasing the density of bone, and strengthening bone, in some cases it can even reverse tooth cavity, if the decay has just started and is still at early stages. In the early 1930s, scientists proved that people had less caries in their teeth when having more fluoride in the water system, to those who had less on none at all. Some places in Europe stopped putting fluoride in the water supplies, but added it to other things, like salt and different types of food, so they were still getting the same intake, but from a different resource.

Can too much fluoride harm me?
As most things, there are pros and cons to fluoride intake. A regular dose is great for your teeth, as it helps protect the enamel preventing decay and acid erosion, but can it be harmful if you have more than advised? Well the answer is yes, too much of anything can eventually have downside affects, for example, in some parts of the world, water supply systems are not controlled by anyone, therefore they contain more fluoride than usual, this results in long term problems, such as enamel fluorosis, or mild to extreme skeletal fluorosis. Fluorosis is when your enamel forms yellow to brown colored mottled like staining, Surface irregularities, and highly noticeable pits that form in the teeth, in severe cases. Mild cases are only mildly discolored, and may appear like white silky patches, these can only be detected by the dentist. Fluorosis is formed during the first 8 years of life, as this is when the permanent teeth are being formed. Most cases of fluorosis are mild, around 2% are considered to be moderate, and less than 1% are severe. Also another big cause to fluorosis is overdose in fluoride products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, some children like the taste of the paste so much, they end up swallowing it rather than spitting it out.

High risk caries patients, who don’t get enough fluoride in their diet, can have fluoride treatments at the dentist. Usually it’s recommended that patients whose enamel is not as strong as it should be, can come and have fluoride gel placed on their teeth for extra protection. Usually this is placed every 3 months. Fluoride gel is at a higher concentrate then the fluoride in your toothpaste, at usually 12,300 ppm, this is why it can only be administered by a professional.

Treatment for fluorosis
In most cases, fluorosis is at such a mild level, no treatment is really needed, as you can’t really visibly see the effects. For more moderate to severe cases, something can always be done to improve the look of discolored patchy looking teeth. For example, to start off with something simple and easy, teeth whitening would be the best treatment to try first; it’s low in cost and very effective to improve your smile.

If still not 100% satisfied with the whitening, you can go to the next step of making your teeth look more presentable, which would be composite resin bonding’s. Resin bonding is a filling material which is bonded onto your teeth, to cover up any obvious patches and discoloration. It can also be used to fill in gaps between teeth, or even to re-shape teeth. Bonding is similar to porcelain veneers, except no taking away tooth structure is needed, as its simply adding on to what’s already there. The bonding is matched to the color of your teeth, so it all blends in well together. Some patients prefer to whiten their teeth first, to get a few shades lighter before placing the bonding’s, if not happy with the current shade.

Lastly, if whitening and composite bonding’s are not for you, then you could think about porcelain veneers and crowns. These can be placed over the teeth for a complete transformation of your smile. The advantage with having veneers and crowns are that the porcelain never discolors, no matter what you eat and drink. Where as the resin bonding’s do discolor, so may need changing or touching up after a few years.

Here at Perfect Smile Spa in Essex, having highly experienced cosmetic dentist, we are known for transforming smiles and gaining patient’s confidence. From as little as teeth whitening, to bonding’s or veneers. With an experienced team, we are here to provide a friendly and professional service for your needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information on the services that we provide, or simply visit our website.

This post is by Dr Jas Sagoo who is the principle dentist at Perfect Smile Spa in Essex.

What is fluoride and is it good for my teeth? was last modified: July 2nd, 2018 by Dr Jas Sagoo

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