14 Jul Your complete guide to fluoride.
Fluoride has been in and out of the media for many years with concerns of whether or not fluoride was safe to ingest. So for the average person, it can be difficult to know what it is and whether it is safe.
WHAT IS FLUORIDE?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found within the earth’s crust and is distributed primarily via natural watercourses and in some foods.
It is also added to our drinking water and most toothpaste on the market.
WHAT IS WATER FLUORIDISATION?
In Australia throughout the 1960’s and 70’s, water fluoridisation was introduced.
This is how it works – When acid from different food and drink attacks the surface of your teeth, it will eventually lead to tooth decay. Fluoride helps to repair the damage to your teeth and assists in protecting them too.
The best form of protection is a constant low-level concentration of fluoride. By having fluoride in our drinking water it acts as a regular fluoride top-up system.
The current Australian levels of fluoride in tap-water was review in 2016 by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and their most recent findings outlined that it is a safe and efficient way to reduce tooth decay in both children and adults.
The report also found that water fluoridation has no other negative health effects such as thyroid dysfunction or cancer. For more information on this report, click here.
WHY IS FLUORIDE IMPORTANT?
Dental caries or dental decay is the process where bacteria creates acid on the tooth surface, which cause minerals to be leached out of the tooth, a process known as demineralisation.
Fluoride protection helps to replace the minerals in the tooth and increase the tooth’s resistance to acid attack, and therefore reduce the risk of dental caries, and reverse some early decay lesions.
As we’ve mentioned, fluoride works best at a topical level, that is, when it in direct contact with the tooth surface. Fluoride added to water supplies and toothpastes allow for this topical action to occur over a long period of time at low levels to give the best results.
To build on the fluoride you receive in your water and toothpaste, fluoride varnish from your dentist will assist in reducing the risk of decay by up to 40%. Fluoride treatments are generally applied every 6 to 12 months, depending on your dental needs.
PREVENTION IS BEST
The Australian Dental Association recommends a dental protection program to protect your teeth for the long term.
Your dentist and hygienist will be able to work with you to develop a dental protection program that includes regular fluoride treatments that suit your own needs. It is important to remember that as in life, no two people are alike and nor should their dental care be.