There seem to be many myths and questions floating around these days about fluoride, and whether it is beneficial for your teeth and body. There are many conspiracy theories created by the spread of misinformation, however, since the use of fluoride has become more mainstream the rates of tooth decay have noticeably decreased. To clear up some common rumours and to help increase the education on fluoride and how it is important for preventative dentistry, we have compiled some information on what you need to know about fluoride.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is found in many places, from your teeth to rocks, plants and water. It is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent teeth from decaying through remineralisation. As fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, it is often used in preventive dentistry, including being added to toothpaste and other dental treatments, and is usually applied to teeth during a dental check-up. It is also added in small, safe amounts to many drinking water supplies, in what is known as fluoridation.
Does it damage your teeth?
One of the myths surrounding fluoride is that it can actually damage some people’s teeth, when in fact it does the opposite. The origins of this myth are due to a lesser-known condition known as Fluorosis that can occur in children with developing teeth. This cosmetic condition leaves the appearance of white patches on the teeth, however, no harmful damage to the teeth occurs. This is not a common issue and has decreased in recent years with the development of low-fluoride toothpaste for children. If the correct overall dosage of fluoride is used there are only beneficial effects.
Can it cause cancer?
No!! This damaging urban myth is a complete falsehood and one that has somehow lived on even after years of being proven incorrect. In fact, it is likely that the opposite is true, as having poor preventive dentistry including long-term tooth decay, and other related issues, are thought to be a cause for oral cancer in some people. The theory that fluoride causes cancer originated from a study involving the exposure of fluoride to rats, however, this study has never been replicated and it involved a much higher use of fluoride than you would ever find in drinking water supplies or within a tube of toothpaste.
How fluoride can help you
The truth is we are lucky to have discovered fluoride and how it can benefit us and our oral health. The decision to add small, safe amounts of fluoride to drinking water supplies will likely be seen in years to come as an easy yet extremely effective way to reduce tooth decay and oral health problems in large populations of people. Therefore, incorporating fluoride into your preventive dentistry regime will help keep plaque at bay and assist your teeth in staying healthy.