Fluoride has been used in water supplies throughout Australia for around 50 years. Water fluoridation has had such an impact on reducing tooth decay that the practise is endorsed by the Australian Dental Association. Despite the benefits and cost-effectiveness of fluoride in keeping teeth healthy, many patients are still unsure if it is safe.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is not a manufactured chemical. It is a mineral that occurs naturally in everything from rocks and soil to vegetables, grains, and water. Fluoride consumption helps strengthen developing teeth so that they are less susceptible to the bacterial acid that can cause decay. It also inhibits the growth of plaque, which is a bacterial film that can cause cavities and gum disease.
Why Is Added Fluoride Important?
The small amount of fluoride that you get from the environment is not enough to adequately protect your teeth. This is why small amounts are added to city water supplies and various dental products. Individuals who live in areas without fluoridated water are encouraged to talk to their dentist about fluoride supplements or treatments using varnishes, gels, or foams that the dentist applies to the teeth.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Fluoride?
Fluoridated water and dental products do not pose a health risk to children or adults. When young children regularly use excessive amounts of toothpaste containing adult-strength fluoride, they may develop a mottling of the tooth enamel called dental fluorosis. This is characterised by tiny white flecks on the tooth that are barely visible and purely cosmetic. Overall, fluoride, when combined with good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits, is a safe and effective way to protect your smile.
For more oral health tips or to schedule a dental checkup, contact us today.