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What is the big deal about fluoride?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Craig | October 1, 2014

Well, fluoride is pretty much awesome and I’ll tell you why! Fluoride is a mineral.  It is naturally occurring in the food we eat and water we drink.  The amount of fluoride varies regionally and the optimum amount has been researched extensively and found to be .7-1.2 ppm.  (ppm means part per million)

Now, here is why fluoride is so important…If a person is receiving the optimum amount of fluoride ingested (that means drinking or eating it) while their teeth are forming the enamel is harder than those who are not. So basically, if your children are receiving fluoride as their teeth are growing before they even grow into the mouth they will be less prone to cavities!  This is a fact!  It doesn’t mean they can’t get them, it means they will be less likely to.  What parent wouldn’t want this for their child?!

So, that covers ingesting the fluoride, now on to why we put it in our toothpaste…teeth have a very limited capacity to heal themselves.  Once the bacteria have eroded their way through the enamel, the only choice a person has is to have a dentist drill it out.  But, if that person has an area where this process has started but has not gone deep into the enamel yet, a topical application of fluoride can help to remineralize this area. Keeping from needing your dentist to drill it out for you!  This is over-simplified, but I think you get the drift.

There is some controversy out there about fluoride and I’ve heard people make the argument that it is “poisoning” the water. As I said before, it is simplify fortifying the water in the same way iodine is in salt, and folic acid in grains.  This is a public safety thing.  I give my own children topical fluoride applications twice yearly, brush their teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, and make certain the water we drink it fluoridated optimally.  If we were to get rid of fluoride, either topically or ingested I would never be able to keep up with the rate of dental decay/ cavities.  I love seeing all my patients, but would like to keep our time together in the dental office to a minimum!