Fluoride is commonly added to drinking water, toothpastes, and mouthwashes, but it is also found naturally in soil, water, and foods. In many places, fluoride is added to the municipal water supply, because studies have shown that it can reduce the incidence of tooth decay in the children and adults, and this is seen as a public health service.
One of the most common health problems in the US affecting children is tooth decay. Since many people in the US, and worldwide cannot pay for insurance and regular dental checks, adding fluoride can provide protection for those who need it.
However, in high amounts, fluoride can have negative effects on health, including problems with bones, teeth, and neurological development. High concentrations during childhood, when teeth are developing, can result in mild dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis causes small white streaks or specks in the enamel of the tooth.
More extreme exposure can cause bone formation issues, gastrointestinal discomfort and in rare cases, death.
Children under the age of 6 years should not use a mouthwash that contains fluoride and should be supervised when brushing their teeth to ensure they do not swallow toothpaste. While small amounts of fluoride are not harmful, the habit of consuming the fluoride in these products is a bad one that needs to be discouraged to avoid long-term damage.
While fluoride has a positive effect on the teeth’s ability to remain strong and cavity free, too much can be dangerous. To avoid over-exposure, know if your city or municipality adds fluoride to the drinking water and use this water in moderation. Also remind children to spit out the toothpastes and fluoride rinses. Generally, most people will never be exposed to extreme amounts, however, it is best to be aware.
Do you have more questions about fluoride? We are more than happy to help answer any questions you have. Schedule your next dental appointment today.