Fluoride is a mineral that we interact with on a daily basis. Fluoride is nature's fighting mechanism against cavities and tooth decay. Hence, fluoride is added to toothpastes, mouth rinses and drinking water to provide dental benefits. However, the right amount of fluoride intake is crucial. Both, deficiency and over intake of fluoride can have detrimental effects on our body, specifically during pregnancy and infancy stages.
Benefits of Fluoride
Our teeth are susceptible to mineral loss, due to acids formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in our mouth. This is known as demineralisation. When these minerals are not restored to the enamel layer, it leads to tooth decay and cavities. This is the major factor behind mothers forbidding their children from eating chocolates as kids!
- Fluoride changes the structure of the outer layer of the tooth in its development stages, making our teeth more resistant to acid attack.
- It helps in re-depositing lost minerals to the enamel layer. This process is known as remineralisation. Remineralisation strengthens the enamel and improves its quality.
- Fluoride reduces the ability of plaque bacteria to produce acid. This is the most important factor for countering tooth decay.
Sources of Fluoride
There are numerous options to cater to our fluoride needs. Consulting your dentist is strongly recommended before resorting to any particular method.
- Drinking Water: Water fluoridation is the most inexpensive method for fluoride intake.
- Fluoride Toothpaste: Dentists recommend fluoride toothpastes for children and adults. Children must use toothpaste with lower concentration of fluoride.
- Mouth Rinses: These are recommended for people particularly prone to tooth decay.
- Supplements: When drinking water does not suffice your fluoride needs, fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, liquids, and lozenges are recommended.
- Fluoride Varnish: In some cases of fluoride deficiency, the dentist directly applies varnish with higher fluoride concentration to the surface of both, baby and adult teeth.
This is not all. Fluoride also poses many health risks for infants, pregnant women, and others alike. It is important to be aware of these facts and the best ways to tackle them. We will be covering the same in the next post. So stay tuned.