Role of Fluoride in Dental health
In our “prevention-first” dentistry series we will discuss role of fluoride in dental health. Tooth enamel is a colorless, hard protective layer of your teeth. It’s even harder than your bones; however, it can dissolve or decay when exposed to acid and a build-up of bacteria. When enamel erodes, in early stages it is not obvious to the naked/untrained eye, in later stages, it exposes dentin, the inner layer of your tooth, making teeth sensitive, yellow/discolored and prone to caries. Avoiding acidic food like sodas, juices or other sugary drinks, brushing, flossing to remove food particles between teeth & using mouthwash to kill bacteria that digest food and produce acid in mouth can help reduce chances of enamel decay.
Enamel is primarily made up of minerals like Calcium & Phosphorus. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps your teeth retain or replenish the Calcium & Phosphorus within the enamel.
Fluoride has been added to drinking water in US for more than 60 years1. US Public Health Service recommends a level of 0.7mg/L. A 2016 report2 shows that WSSC supplied water– the Montgomery county water supplier –has fluoride levels of 0.7mg/L. Water fluoridation has helped reduce the incidence of caries in US significantly especially in areas of low income level where dental care is not practiced. However, too much fluoride intake can cause a condition called Fluorosis which can lead to teeth mottling & permanent damage to the teeth especially in those younger than 8yrs of age.
Children who consume a typical diet, drink fluoridated water, and use fluoridated dental products properly will get the fluoride they need for healthy teeth. It is not necessary to monitor water or food consumption since your child ingests low levels of fluoride from these sources. If you use well water for consumption that has less than 0.7mg/L of naturally occurring fluoride, consider talking to your dentist about fluoride supplements for your child’s oral health. A dental toothpaste, mouthwashes with Fluoride can be used to augment the natural intake and improve the enamel remineralization. Dentist also use fluoride varnishes/gels and other forms of therapy to arrest caries or improve remineralization of the enamel3
Your child’s dentist can examine the health of enamel for erosion during regular check-up’s, recommend early prevention strategies and take action to arrest caries development. Need we say it again? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…
Above article was first published in the Damascus Flash Newsletter.
Dr. Naru Baliga, DMD is Owner of New Smiles Kids Dentistry, Damascus, MD. A newly opened pediatric dental practice in heart of Damascus. Dr. Baliga is an experienced board certified pediatric dentist. Her practice uses latest technology like Laser dentistry for virtually painless dentistry, digital x-rays to reduce exposure, intra-oral cameras for oral health education, sedation & Hospital dentistry for child’s comfort. She is accepting new patients up to age of 18 yrs. The office accepts most PPO plans. You can reach her office at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nskdentistry.com
3. Marinho VC, Higgins JP, Sheiham A. One topical fluoride (toothpastes, or mouthrinses, or gels, or varnishes) versus another for preventing dental caries in children and adolescents. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD002780