5 Things You Need to Know About Fluoride
Portland is the country's largest city without fluoridated water. The debate on whether to fluoridate the water has been ongoing for decades, and voters have voted down measures to fluoridate Portland's water at least four times. As a dental patient, here's what you need to know about fluoride and how it can affect your teeth.
1. Fluoride Occurs Naturally
Fluoride can be found in natural environments. In fact, it appears on the periodic table right between oxygen and neon, and you can find trace amounts of fluoride in rivers, lakes, and oceans. Through much of the industrialized world, fluoride is added to water in trace quantities to help with dental issues.
2. Fluoride Builds Tooth Enamel
Fluoride in drinking water can help to build tooth enamel both before and after teeth erupt. For instance, when children drink fluoridated water, it helps remineralize the enamel on already erupted baby teeth, but at the same time, the fluoride also benefits adult teeth that are beneath children's gums, waiting to erupt. When you drink fluoridated water on a regular basis, the fluoride gets into your saliva, and that also helps to continuously rebuild enamel.
According to the American Dental Association, fluoridated water helps to reduce incidences of cavities in children and adults by up to 25 percent. Many people consider fluoridating water to be an inexpensive way to contribute to the public health of a community, and the annual per person cost is between 50 cents to $3.
3. Fluoride Is Also Helpful in Toothpaste
If you are concerned about the lack of fluoride in Portland's water, you should brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride. The majority of major toothpaste brands contain fluoride, but there are a few alternative brands that don't use fluoride. Instead, they focus on a baking soda mixture with no added fluoride. If the local water supply doesn't have fluoride, you may want to stay away from varieties without fluoride.
Toothpaste for young children also tends to not have fluoride. This is simply to prevent young children from swallowing excess fluoride-remember the levels of fluoride in water are much lower than the levels in topical treatments such as toothpaste. Watch your child's brushing skills, and when he or she is old enough to spit and rinse, switch to a toothpaste containing fluoride right away.
4. Fluoride Treatments Provide an Extra Boost of Fluoride
In some cases, you may want to consider fluoride treatments. These are in-office dental treatments that can work for both children and adults. Ideally, you may want to consider doing a fluoride treatment after a cleaning, as the teeth need to be as clean as possible for the treatment to work.
Essentially, the dental hygienist or the dentist puts a layer of fluoride on your teeth. This has much higher levels of fluoride concentration than toothpaste or mouth rinse from the store. This mixture sits on your teeth for a while, and then, the dentist wipes it off. The dentist may request that you don't eat or drink water for about 30 minutes so the remaining fluoride can continue to penetrate the teeth.
5. Fluoride Supplements Are Available as Needed
If you have a lot of dental issues, your dentist may even recommend fluoride supplements. These can come in pill or liquid form. Although they are more commonly prescribed for children, they can be used by adults as well. There is also prescription toothpaste with extra fluoride.
If you have questions about fluoride or want to find ways to introduce more fluoride into your daily routine, contact a dental professional directly. At Rose City Dental, we are always happy to meet a new client.