Fluoride – Benefits & Risks

Excerpt: Fluoride is a key component in the health of your teeth. It's main function is to strengthen the enamel of your tooth, as well as prevent tooth decay.

Fast facts about fluoride

  • Fluoride has been studied extensively and is considered very safe.
  • Don’t swallow fluoride products like toothpaste or mouth wash as you may get to much.
  • Fluoride is some times added to drinking water supplies to increase dental health.

Fluoride is a key component in the health of your teeth. Its main function is to strengthen the enamel of your tooth, as well as prevent tooth decay. There are many benefits to fluoride as well as some risks, however, the risks are fairly rare, and shouldn’t be an issue for the vast majority of people.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is an important mineral in your bones and teeth, it can be found in the following resources:

  • Water
  • Soil
  • Plants
  • Rocks
  • Air
 

Some cities around the world also add fluoride directly into the water drinking supply because of concerns due to people not consuming enough, this process is called “water fluoridation”. If you’re unsure about water fluoridation in your city, you can always contact your cities government to find out.

You can always Google your city and its position on water fluoridation.

What is fluoride used for?

Fluoride’s main purpose is dental health, specifically for increasing the strength of the tooth enamel, as well as a deterrent against tooth decay. 
 
You can often find it added to the following products:
 
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouth wash
  • Supplements
 
If you are prone to getting more cavities than usual, this can be a very serious issue, your dentist may even suggest using a prescribed mouthwash with a higher concentration of mouthwash.
 
Fluoride also has other uses:
 
  • Medical imaging scans
  • As a cleaning agent
  • In pesticides
  • To make Teflon, steel, and aluminum products

Why is fluoride beneficial?

Fluoride is specifically beneficial to teeth because it:

  • Fortifies tooth enamel
  • Adds minerals back into the tooth enamel
  • Reverse early tooth decay
  • Prevents the growth of harmful bacteria
 
 As carbohydrates are broken down in your mouth by bacteria, acid is a natural by-product. 

Are there any potential complications?

Generally, people are not in danger of overconsuming fluoride.

Dental Fluorosis

Dental fluorosis is a fairly benign (harmless) condition that occurs from the overconsumption of fluoride while your teeth are still in development and have not yet erupted. The only real outcome of this is discolored white spots on your teeth. These spots don’t pose a threat and aren’t generally something to be concerned about, however, if you are self-conscious about their appearance you can inquire about cosmetic solutions to your dentist.

Skeletal Fluorosis

Fluoride may impact more than teeth if it is over consumed, if it begins to impact the bones in your body it is referred to as skeletal fluorosis. Early indications of skeletal fluorosis include joint pain and stiffness. 

Is fluoridated water dangerous?

There are numerous scientific studies that show no side effects of adding low concentrations of fluoride to drinking water. 
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