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The importance of fluoride

  • One of the most common, yet largely preventable chronic diseases in children is tooth decay, and while fluoride plays a significant role in fortifying tooth enamel, which in turn prevents decay, a majority of parents don’t subscribe to in-office fluoride treatments. This is because they don’t have enough dental insurance to cover the costs. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has recommended that all children, particularly those who are at risk of having tooth decay, should receive specialised fluoride treatments. The organisation has also put in place a dental discount plan that would make it easy for most parents to afford this service.

    What is fluoride?

    Fluoride is a monoatomic anion of fluorine – inorganic, i.e. without carbon - and is the simplest anion of the element, fluorine. It is a compound that occurs naturally in water as well as in many foods.

    According to several studies on the importance of fluoride which was conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), it was deduced that fluoride prevents cavities in the teeth and a conclusion was reached that adding fluoride to water minimises tooth decay.

    Over 170 million individuals in the United States of America make use of fluoridated water which is made available by the water authorities. Every day, minerals are added to a tooth’s enamel (re-mineralisation) and lost (demineralisation) when acids formed from sugars and plaque bacteria in the mouth attack the enamel. Re-mineralization involves the re-deposition of minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride to the enamel via water and foods. Tooth decay arises as a result of excess demineralisation without a corresponding re-mineralisation to repair the enamel.

    Fluoride’s significant role in strengthening and protecting the teeth cannot be overemphasised as it boosts the durability and strength of our teeth. The chemical compound is also responsible for ensuring the healthy development of the bones as well as the growth of our nails and hair.

    Most of the time, there are high concentrations of fluoride on the outer layer of the teeth, but over time, the chemical compound dissolves. One of the best ways, therefore, to strengthen tooth enamel is to ingest fluoridated beverages as well as from the application of toothpaste (with fluoride). Fluoride treatments or rinses also help to prevent the action of acids that trigger the creation of cavities in the teeth.

    Benefits of fluoride

    As stated by the American Dental Association (ADA), the extensive availability of multiple sources of fluoride has worked significantly to minimise cases of tooth decay in the United States and abroad.

    Fluoride is beneficial in that is increases the hardness of tooth enamel and also reduces the sensitivity of the enamel to the influence of acids, sugar, and other dental antagonists that come in contact with the teeth.

    Fluoride is also very useful in hindering the creation as well as the development of dental calculus and plaque. Fluoride is also helpful in the formation of wholesome tooth enamel, and this is the primary reason why fluoride treatment is regularly recommended for young kids.

    Furthermore, fluoride toughens the teeth by preventing dental caries from starting and tooth decay caused by the breakdown of carbohydrates as well as the acid that is present in sugars. Whichever areas are already weakened by these acids, fluoride works as a curative output as it re-mineralises those areas efficiently. Thus, fluoride’s efficacy in reversing tooth decay is almost second to none.

    People with teeth conditions such as gum disease – gingivitis or periodontitis – dry mouth, frequent cavities, etc. are already at risk of tooth decay unless they undergo fluoride treatment as soon as possible.

    Sources of fluoride

    The following are the sources of fluoride:

    • Fluoride toothpaste– Children from two years of age and up, as well as adults, are advised by the American Dental Association (ADA) to make use of only fluoride toothpaste that comes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
    • Community water– The Center for Disease Control and Prevention have always considered the fact that the fluoridation of community water is one of the most significant communal health achievements in this century. The fluoridation of community water has always been in existence for over fifty years and was made so that the fluoride content in water will be adjusted to the ideal level to enhance dental health. Besides your home water supply, you can also drink fluoridated water from bottled water, at your workplace, in schools, etc.
    • Mouth rinses– The ADA also recommends the use of fluoride mouth rinses, though not for children below six years of age. This is because rinses are designed to be sluiced in the mouth and spat out. Such mouth rinses can be purchased over the counter.
    • Fluoride supplements– These dietary fluoride supplements, in the form of lozenges, tablets, and drops, are available only on prescription. They are usually prescribed for use by children from the ages of six months to sixteen years who are living in communities with no fluoridated water or who are at risk of developing tooth decay.
    • Fluorides in foams, gels, and rinses– Dentists are the only qualified persons who can professionally apply fluorides in foams, gels or rinses. These forms of fluorides are more concentrated than the common ones, and therefore less frequently used.

    In conclusion, prevention, they say, is better than cure; it is less expensive and less complicated to prevent tooth decay than to cure it. This is why it is essential to pay attention to the use of fluoride as its benefits to the health of your teeth cannot be quantified.

    Having read the importance of fluoride, why not check out this article about the benefit of olive oil?

    Bibliography

    Roberts K. (2017, March 21). The Importance of Fluoride Treatment. Retrieved December 13, 2017,  from the Web

    Nordqvist C. (2016, January 11). Fluoride: Uses, Effects and Controversies. Retrieved December 13, 2017,  from the Web

    Wilkinson D. (2016, May 13). Importance of Fluoride for Teeth. Retrieved December 13, 2017,  from the Web

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