You might have heard about fluoride being present in your toothpaste or tap water. Well, who hasn’t heard about it? But what is fluoride? Fluoride comes from the element fluorine, the first halogen of the periodic table. Fluoride is relatively unstable in itself. Therefore, it is usually present as a salt combined with soft metals. In this dental blog, we will be overviewing the advantages and disadvantages of fluoride in water and toothpaste and its possible adverse effects on the body.
Where is fluoride found?
Fluoride is present in almost all dental products, varying from toothpaste to mouthwashes or fluoride gels. In most countries, fluoride is also present in your tap water naturally or due to water fluoridation. Fluoridation of water refers to a process that involves adding fluoride to the public water supply. The most common form of fluoride found in these sources is the salt Sodium Fluoride (NaF).
Uses of Fluoride
Now that we know that fluoride is surrounding our teeth from all sides, we can dive into its uses. Since you are concerned for your teeth, we will focus on the mechanisms regarding fluoride’s role in tooth and enamel protection. Fluoride does it in a couple of ways:
- Anti-bacterial action – the bacteria present in the mouth are culprits for many diseases, including cavities and dental caries. Fluoride inhibits the excess bacteria growth. First, it enters the bacterial cells and inhibits or stops their enzymes, restricting their growth. Moreover, It maintains an acidic environment in the mouth which is not favorable for bacterial growth. The bacteria, thus, have to use way more energy to fight the low pH and lose their ability to flourish.
- Enhanced remineralization and reduced de-mineralization – mineralization of teeth simply means adding calcium, collagen, and phosphorus to the teeth’ enamel. Fluoride aids in the new mineralization of teeth and promotes retention of previous teeth minerals. This is also partly due to its antimicrobial properties. Decreased bacterial attachment to the teeth leads to stronger teeth.
Summing up, fluoride keeps you from getting dental caries and enamel loss. You might want to thank fluoride in your toothpaste for your strong and shiny teeth.
Side Effects of Fluoride
While most of us are only aware of the pros of fluoride, there are some cons too. The truth is that water fluoridation is a growing concern among health authorities as it poses health risks. The topical use of fluoride, i.e., via toothpaste and mouthwashes is deemed protective. Conversely, the ingestion of fluoride through fluoridated water brings about conditions such as fluorosis.
What is Fluorosis?
Fluorosis is a condition characterized by excess fluoride in your blood. This excess fluoride, unfortunately, attacks the enamel of your teeth from the inside. Fluorosis is concerning during a child’s development, the time teeth are forming and growing. This condition may appear as white spots or blotches on your teeth.
Apart from the teeth, ingestion of fluoride may cause problems with the gastrointestinal system like nausea, bloating, and diarrhea. Ingestions of excess fluoride salts are also linked with hypertension in some people.
Generally speaking, fluoride is an essential element that has documented teeth-health benefits. In most developed countries, the amount of fluoride in water is controlled so it doesn’t cause any adverse effects. However, it is better to use fluoride via topical formulations like toothpaste and mouthwashes.
*If you or your loved ones are experiencing caries, tooth pain, or irritation in your teeth, contact us today (your las vegas smile dentist today). A shiny, healthy smile is enough for making someone’s day better. *
- Aoun A, Darwiche F, Al Hayek S, Doumit J. The Fluoride Debate: The Pros and Cons of Fluoridation. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2018;23(3):171-180. doi:10.3746/pnf.2018.23.3.171
- Fluoride and healthy teeth. Paediatr Child Health. 2002;7(8):575-584. doi:10.1093/pch/7.8.575