Myths and Facts About Fluoride

Cosmetic_DentistOver the past 10 or 15 years, dental patients have likely seen a lot of conflicting or confusing information around fluoride, particularly its safety and place in oral health care. Making any oral health decision needs to start with a foundation of factual information.

Let’s start the discussion of fluoride in this post with a definition of what it is. Fluoride is a compound of the element fluorine, which is found throughout nature in water, soil, air and food. Fluoride makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to decay and promotes remineralization, which aids in repairing early decay before the damage is even visible.

Now that we’ve described what fluoride actually is, here are several common myths about fluoride, as well as the facts that describe the situation accurately.

Oral health myths about fluoride

Myth: Fluoride shouldn’t be added to water for the sake of oral health.

Fact: Fluoride has a lengthy track record of safety and effectiveness.

Fluoride has been added to drinking water in U.S. municipalities for 70 years. Before water fluoridation became widespread, American children had three times as many cavities as they do now. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services has affirmed the effectiveness of the practice.

Myth: Fluoride offers no positive benefits for those who are exposed to it.

Fact: Fluoride helps build strong bones and teeth. 

No matter what your age, fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It also reverses early stages of tooth decay.

Myth: Tooth decay is no longer a problem, so use of fluoride is irrelevant.

Fact: Tooth decay continues to be a major health problem, especially  for children.

Approximately 25 percent of kindergarteners arrive at school already having experienced a cavity. In 2014, the American Dental Association recommended that parents begin brushing their child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first baby tooth comes in.

Myth: We get all the fluoride we need in toothpaste.

Fact: Using fluoridated toothpaste can be one part of a comprehensive fluoride regimen to reduce the incidence of tooth decay and cavities.

If tooth decay is a significant oral health problem for you, your dentist may suggest the application of fluoride gels or foams in his or her office, or use of a fluoride rinse such as CloSYS.

“Fluoride is one of the safest and most effective weapons that dentists have in combating tooth decay and other oral health maladies,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist with a practice in central Phoenix.

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