Fluoride is one of the best ways to keep teeth strong, healthy, and protected against decay. But what is fluoride? Who needs it? How much do they need? We know you have questions, but don’t worry… the team at our dental office in Chapel Hill is here to answer them.
Tooth decay is a serious problem among both children and adults, and one of the best ways to prevent it is by using fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral found in nature. However, it’s also often added to water which provides an easy way to make sure we’re all getting enough of it. Fluoride helps harden the enamel so our teeth are super strong and protected against bacteria and acid. Fluoride can even help strengthen teeth before they erupt, making it pretty important for kids.
Fluoride comes in two forms — systemic and topical. Systemic is any form that’s ingested into the body, including fluoride found in water and fluoride tablets. Topical refers to the stuff your dentist in Chapel Hill applies to your teeth during dental visits. Chances are if your drinking water is fluoridated, and you’re using a toothpaste with fluoride, you’re probably getting enough systemic fluoride. However, if you’re prone to cavities or decay, or have sensitive teeth, your dentist may recommend using topical fluoride to keep sensitivity at bay and further protect your enamel.
When it comes to fluoride, there is such a thing as too much. Dental fluorosis is one of the main concerns that can result from the overuse of fluoride. Mostly affecting children under 8, dental fluorosis is caused by too much fluoride over a prolonged period of time before adult teeth have erupted. Sometimes you may notice pitting and staining, other times fluorosis can cause almost invisible white spots. You can reduce the risk of dental fluorosis by monitoring how much fluoride is in your water and choosing a different source for kids under 8 if yours has more than 2 mg/L. It’s also important to note that, while highly unlikely, too much fluoride can be hazardous. Even though it’s extremely difficult to expose yourself to dangerous levels of fluoride, you should still follow a few rules of thumb such as:
If you have more questions regarding fluoride, we welcome you to call our Chapel Hill dental office to schedule a visit. We’re always accepting new patients and are here to help our neighbors get and keep healthy smiles.