Facts About Fluoride
Here at Comfort Care Family Dental, we’ve found that many of our patients know that fluoride is good for their teeth. But they may not know more than that.
Unless they’re dentists or chemists, they don’t really have to know. The fluoride doesn’t care. It will strength their teeth either way. Still, we thought we’d share some additional information.
Before we get going though, perhaps it would be worthwhile to address one common conspiracy theory involving the substance. Some people believe the CIA, the Illuminati, or aliens from outer space are putting fluoride in our water to control our minds. Truly, they’re not, and it can’t do that. But the actual facts about fluoride are pretty interesting.
The Chemistry of Fluoride
Fluoride is a natural substance, the ionic form of the element fluorine. It’s an inorganic monatomic anion with the chemical formula F”. Fluoride salts are white or colorless, odorless, and have a bitter taste. Chemists classify it as a weak base because it only partially associates in solution.
It is found in all water, including water that Man has left alone. It’s there because it leeches from soil and stones into the groundwater. However, the amount of fluoride in such water is too low to help your oral health. Thus we have to add it (as most American municipalities do) to the water we drink if we want it to benefit us.
The American Dental Association has determined that fluoride strengthens teeth (specifically, tooth enamel) and fights cavities in children and adults alike. The recommended concentration for a community water supply is 0.7 parts fluoride per a million parts of water. That might not sound like much, but it gets the job done.
You can ingest it either topically or systemically and derive benefit either way. Topically means you get it when fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwash, or water comes into contact with your teeth. That strengthens your enamel
Systemically means you drink fluoridated water or take a supplement. Once it’s inside your body, fluoride again makes your teeth stronger. It also gets into your saliva, and the saliva then makes a protective barrier on the surface of your teeth.
(As an aside, fluoride has also been studied as a way to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis, but there, the findings are considerably less promising. The treatment increased bone density but failed to decrease the risk of fractures.)
Can You Get Fluoride from Bottled Water?
Unfortunately, people who drink primarily bottled water in preference to tap water may not be getting optimal levels of fluoride. Most brands of bottled water just don’t have enough. If your preference is for bottled water, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount from another source.
Fluoride and Your Water Filtration System
Some home filtration systems affect the level of fluoride in the water that comes out of the faucet. Distillation and reverse osmosis systems lower the concentration level to suboptimal levels. Charcoal and carbon filtration systems, however, do not reduce the amount of fluoride in your tap water.
The Downside of Fluoride
The beneficial effect of fluoride on your oral health is such that most dentists don’t hesitate to recommend it enthusiastically. Still, there are some minor risks. Happily, these aren’t the same grave consequences alleged by many who oppose fluoridation. The risks are most cosmetic. If you ingest a whole lot of fluoride while your teeth are developing, you can end up with a condition called fluorosis. This means the teeth form with white lines or pitted white bits of tenamel. Dentists are often successful in eliminating these cosmetic issues with whitening treatments.
If you have any questions or concerns about fluoride or are in need of dental services, we invite you to contact us at Comfort Care Family Dental today.