Fluoride and Oral Health

Fluoride is a mineral that plays an important role in strengthening and protecting teeth. Fluoride helps in building strong teeth enamel, thereby making it resistant against acid attacks (tooth decay). Acid attack happens when the bacteria in the mouth reacts with the left over tiny food particles that produces acid. Fluoride helps in preventing and resisting tooth decay.

Using additional fluoride like supplements and tooth paste that has more amount of fluoride, reduces the chances of developing cavities. According to American Dental Association, fluoride toothpastes are optimal for oral health. Not only does it make tooth enamel strong but also reverses the dental decaying process. Fluoride can be dissolved overtime, so it is necessary for you to take fluoride on a daily basis.

Dental fluorosis
Certain amount of fluoride helps in making tooth enamel strong, but excess fluoride can result in fluorosis – a condition where the condition of tooth enamel changes. Some white stains start forming which can be more severe later. It is mostly common among the children of age group 7-8 years. Fluorosis occurs when children consume too much of fluoride when teeth are at developing stage. It can also result in permanent browning, yellowing or even chalky white patches which do not fade easily.

One of the prime causes of fluorosis is swallowing of too much fluoridated toothpaste. Since many children likes the taste of toothpaste, they swallow it. For children below 6 years of age, using pea sized amount is better idea. Make sure that they rinse the mouth thoroughly.

Risk factors of dental fluorosis
Fluorosis can result from mild white stains to dark brown and black stains on teeth. Not only swallowing of toothpaste can be harmful but also drinking water that has high amount of fluoride can also cause fluorosis. Fluoride consumed in excess amount can have toxic effects and can lead to death. This is because fluoride acts on the stomach lining that forms acid known as hydrofluoric acid which then causes nausea, blood vomiting, stomach pain, watery eyes and fainting.

Drinking fluoridated water for long time can cause skeletal fluorosis (a bone disease that damages bones and joints)