Fluoride in Dentistry: Friend or Foe?

water fluoridation fluoride benefits

Water Fluoridation

By Dr. Jerry Simon

It’s a little known fact that Fluoride is the 13th most common natural element on Earth. It is naturally present in the oceans at a concentration of 1 part per million (ppm). Yet, it is generally not present in the lakes and rivers on land therefore it is not usually naturally present in drinking water. However, we have been adding Fluoride to the drinking water to a concentration of 1 ppm since the 1950’s, and this practice has been proven to be safe and spectacularly effective in reducing decay in children and adults. Of course, consumed in excess, like anything else, Fluoride can potentially create problems.

Since Fluoride levels in our water supply have been regulated at the local level, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found a range of 0.7 ppm to 1.2 ppm in city water systems. The two agencies recommended that since there are now many additional Fluoride sources available to us, compared to 50 years ago—such as specially formulated tooth pastes, fluoride rinsing in school programs, and as an added mineral to some bottled waters and soft drinks— some people might be getting more than the ideal recommended dosage of 1 ppm daily. For that reason the agencies now recommend that municipalities add Fluoride to the drinking water at the lower end of the range—0.7 ppm.

Some researchers have also observed that some children seem to be developing slight white spots on their teeth that could be due to excess Fluoride in their diet. However the DHHS and the EPA reaffirmed their “ongoing support of appropriate fluoridation for community water systems, and its effectiveness in preventing tooth decay throughout one’s lifetime.”

Unfortunately the “anti-fluoridationists” have jumped on the cautionary part of the story to create fear in the minds of the public and attempt to scare people into avoiding this very successful public health measure. This would be a very unfortunate thing for all of us since lack of adequate Fluoride definitely causes leads to more cavities.

This is not just about children and baby teeth either

By the time children reach 12 years of age, all of their permanent teeth, except the wisdom teeth, have formed and these teeth need to last a lifetime. Less than optimal Fluoride affects both children and adults.

old fillings fluoride prevention

Fluoride Extends Life of Your Teeth

The absence of Fluoride is a major factor in the creation of cavities and, although the art of cleaning and filling them is better than ever, many people don’t realize that there are no permanent fillings! Everything wears out over time. We do not have permanent shoes—they wear out; we do not have permanent tires for our cars—they wear out. Similar to pot holes on the road, which, once repaired, will eventually wear out and will have to be fixed again, we certainly do not have permanent fillings on our teeth. That’s one more reason why avoiding cavities is really important. While teeth can last a lifetime, dentist’s fillings can last 10-15 years before they start to break or leak and develop new decay under the old filling. Avoiding that first cavity or at least postponing it as long as possible is very important in the long run to avoid needing crowns and root canals.

Fluoride is helpful for adults as well

Once the teeth have formed, the 1 ppm Fluoride in the drinking water does not have much effect. However, topical or painted-on Fluoride can seep into the outer surface of the tooth and make it more decay resistant. This is like painting wood to help to prevent damage from penetrating inside.

topical fluoride

Application of Fluoride Toothpaste

A product that many dentists recommend for adults is Prescription Strength Topical Fluoride that is brushed on to the teeth daily. The product we recommend is Take Home Care. This product has 5,000 ppm Fluoride so it is MUCH stronger than the Fluoride in the water which is only 1 ppm. In addition it is also much stronger than over the counter FL containing tooth pastes that are only 500-600 ppm.

At 5,000 ppm the Fluoride gel is brushed on the teeth once a day in combination with regular tooth paste and left to sit in the mouth for 2 minutes. After brushing the patient spits out several times to avoid any swallowing of the Fluoride and does not rinse, eat or drink for 15-30 minutes. That lets the Fluoride penetrate into the surface enamel.

Office-Applied Topical FL

In the office a dentist can apply even stronger topical Fluoride twice a year. The newest products are resins that contain 22,000 PPM Fluoride! This product is usually applied at the end of cleaning visits for children and adults. This resin is painted onto the teeth and needs 3 or more hours for the Fluoride to absorb into the tooth.

The mission of dentists is to help patients avoid cavities and all the problems that go along with them. Visiting a dentist regularly can go a long way into making sure that you have white bright and healthy teeth at any age!

From 5-6-2011

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