The Truth About Fluoride: Busting the Myths
Fluoride is commonly found in toothpastes, mouth washes and dental gels. But what exactly is fluoride, why do dentists rave about it, and as a parent, should you have any concerns about fluoride? Our specialist paediatric dentist, Sarah Tukmachi, busts the common myths about fluoride.
Myth 1: fluoride is not natural
Fluoride is a mineral that is present in nature from many sources, from our natural water supply to tea, fish and beer. When added to drinking water, fluoride has been shown to drastically reduce tooth decay. The World Health Organization and Public Health England are among a number of other important health bodies that have endorsed the merits of fluoride in improving oral health. Research has consistently shown that brushing with fluoride toothpaste is the single most important way of reducing your child’s risk of tooth decay.
Myth 2: fluoride is bad for you
Not true! Fluoride works its magic in a number of different ways…
- Whilst your child is growing fluoride is incorporated into their developing teeth making the enamel tougher before the teeth enter the mouth
- Once the teeth are fully through fluoride continues its action by making the adult teeth already present in the mouth more decay resistant
- Fluoride also interferes with the complex demineralisation and remineralisation processes that occur when you consume sugar. When fluoride is present during remineralisation, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be helping to keep your teeth nice and strong
Myth 3: fluoridated water is dangerous
In the UK around 10% of the population benefit from a water supply with fluoride either occurring naturally or being added to a level that has been shown to improve oral health. If you are curious to know whether this applies to where you live the majority of water companies have an online function to check this.
In areas with fluoridated water, 5-year-olds are 15% less likely to have had tooth decay than children from non-fluoridated areas. In addition, fluoridated areas have 45% fewer admissions to hospital for dental decay, which often results in teeth being removed under general anaesthetic.
With regards to other health complications, a report by the Water Fluoridation Health Monitor for England by Public Health England in 2014 proved there was no evidence for a difference in the rate of the following medical conditions in populations living with fluoride or without fluoride in the water:
- Hip fractures
- Kidney stones
- Down’s Syndrome
- All cancers
Myth 4: fluoride causes side effects
Although fluoride is very good for our teeth it is important you use the correct concentration and amount for the age of your child. As a general rule children under three should use a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1,000 ppm fluoride and children between the are of 3 and 6 should use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing more than 1,000 ppm fluoride.
Too much fluoride for our teeth can result in a condition called fluorosis, which can cause little white flecks on the teeth when mild and sometimes larger brown patches when more severe. The risk of fluorosis from consuming too much fluoride is linked to the amount of toothpaste much more than the actual concentration. To avoid fluorosis make sure you know how much paste to put on your child’s brush and make sure your child does not eat or lick the toothpaste (where possible!).
So what can I do to make sure my child gets the right amount of fluoride for their teeth?
The most important thing you can do is assist you child with their brushing using fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride also comes in different forms such as mouthwashes, fluoride gel and even as an component of some tooth-coloured fillings. Pop into Happy Kids Dental for a consultation and we can provide a fluoride plan tailored to your child’s oral health needs.
Are you concerned that your child isn’t getting enough fluoride? Book in for a consultation at Happy Kids Dental today!