Fluoride occurs naturally in water, soil, rocks, plants, and air. It can also be found in human bones and teeth. In the dental field, it is used as an aid to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay and cavities. To make sure everyone has access to this vital mineral many cities and towns add small amounts of it to their local water supply.
Why is fluoride considered to be so beneficial to teeth?
If the bacteria that are naturally present in your mouth break down the carbs and sugars that you consume, the resulting acid will eat away at the minerals that cover and protect tooth enamel, resulting in tooth damage and decay. When fluoride is present, this is what will happen:
- It will slow down the loss of minerals that are present in your tooth enamel
- It will rebuild or remineralize your weakened tooth enamel
- It will reverse the early signs of tooth decay
- It will prevent the growth of harmful and unwelcome bacteria
- It will prevent cavities
Does fluoride have any side effects?
Fluoride should be consumed in small doses. That’s why the amount of fluoride added to local water hovers around 0.7 parts per million. Greater amounts can result in different conditions, such as:
This condition sounds much more threatening than it actually is. When you consume too much fluoride while your teeth are still forming under your gums, the new teeth will present white spots and this condition is known as dental fluorosis. It does not cause any damage or harm to your teeth other than the way they look.
Can you avoid this condition? Easily. Simply supervise how much fluoride your children consume. Make sure they are not swallowing their toothpaste when they brush their teeth.
In this case, what suffers from an excess of fluoride are the bones and not the teeth. When this condition first presents itself, individuals suffering from it will have joint pain and stiffness. If unchecked, it will alter the bone structure and cause the ligaments to calcify.
Although this is a rare condition, if over time you drink too much water with fluoride which has either been accidentally contaminated with fluoride or has nearby geological deposits of fluoride, you may end up with this condition. What you can do to avoid it is, at least, make sure not to swallow your toothpaste.
Any other side effects of fluoride?
Many research studies have been conducted through the years to try and understand the usefulness or danger of fluoride to humans. The results have been mixed. For example, one study found a link between childhood exposure to fluoride and higher bone cancer rates in males but another study could not verify this connection. Other people have claimed that fluoride in water may be responsible for low IQ scores in children, arthritis, or kidney disease. These claims have also been contradicted by other studies.
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