Is Fluoride Good For The Teeth?

Dr. Oh Xue Ling BDS (Adelaide)

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay 

Is Fluoride Good For Teeth?

What Is Fluoride?

Some people have a misconception that fluoride is a chemical additive added in dental products like mouthwash and toothpaste. In fact, fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is found in soil, water, and certain types of foods. When present in a community’s water supply, it helps decrease the amount of tooth decay.

In Singapore, our water supply contains 0.7mg/litre of fluoride (WHO recommends a level of 0.5 to 1.5mg/litre of fluoride in community waters).

Is Fluoride Safe?

When used appropriately, fluoride is absolutely safe. The probable toxic dose of fluoride is at 5mg/kg. That will mean a dose of 300mg of fluoride for an average man of 60kg. To reach that dose, you will need to drink 400 litres of water or eat 200grams of adult toothpaste in one go.

The main adverse effects of fluoride are dental fluorosis, which results in white spots on the enamel of teeth. This occurs when a child ingests too much fluoride during their teeth-forming years. Hence it is important that children below the age of 6 use child toothpaste which has a lower concentration of fluoride and also to supervise them while brushing to minimise them swallowing toothpaste.

How does Fluoride protect my teeth?

When children are exposed to fluoride when younger, it gets incorporated into the developing teeth, resulting in a stronger form of enamel which makes it more resistant to tooth decay. For adults, fluoride helps strengthen teeth from the outside by being part of the saliva, protecting the teeth from decay, and also decreasing tooth sensitivity.

What is Fluoride treatment?

Fluoride treatment is typically in varnish or gel form and usually applied by dentists after cleaning your teeth. It is a high concentration of fluoride that is applied directly to all your teeth, on all surfaces.

Adult toothpaste typically contains about 1500ppm of fluoride, while fluoride treatment range from 10,000 to 22600 ppm of fluoride. After applying, your dentist will usually advise not to eat or drink for about 30 minutes, to allow for greater uptake of fluoride.

Twice a day brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, good hygiene and regular visits to the dentist with fluoride treatment will help minimise the occurrence of decay and painful fillings. So think twice before rejecting a fluoride treatment the next time you visit the dentist!

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