At our dental practice, we see patients all the time who struggle with keeping their teeth healthy and strong. Maybe they have sensitive teeth, with pain after consuming hot or cold foods and drinks. Or maybe they have tooth decay that leads to painful cavities that are stressful and expensive to fix.
Whatever the issue, there’s a chance that fluoride could be a factor. Team Popp Dental is a family of experts who know just how important fluoride can be for healthy teeth but also to know when enough is enough. Fluoride isn’t a cure-all for every dental problem, so it needs to be used cautiously and with care.
Let’s spend a little bit of time learning more about using fluoride in your oral health routine and when to avoid it!
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that naturally occurs in many foods and is often added to city water sources. Fluoride appears in water sources of about two-thirds of the cities in the United States! When consumed, our bodies absorb it in the gut and store it in our bones and teeth. Interestingly, fluoride also appears in our saliva along with phosphate and calcium as a natural way that our bodies work to keep our teeth strong!
Why is Fluoride Important for Our Teeth?
The mineral qualities of fluoride are an important component of keeping the enamel of our teeth strong. Enamel is the outer coating of our teeth that protects them from external factors like injury and acids. Bacteria in our mouth grow into plaque and tartar that produce acids that wear down that tooth enamel, stripping away essential minerals like fluoride. This is where cavities come from. A cavity is simply a permanent hole that has been eaten through the enamel of your teeth!
When paired with good dental hygiene–meaning regular brushing and flossing to remove the plaque from growing on your teeth–fluoride can actually help repair some of the enamel, restoring your teeth to better strength and health. This is called remineralization, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: when you add minerals like fluoride to help strengthen your teeth!
When to Use Fluoride
Because of these incredible healing powers that fluoride can offer our tooth enamel, it’s often helpful to add fluoride into our oral hygiene routine to boost up our fluoride! Besides getting fluoride in our drinking water, many kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash also contain fluoride. When you go to your regular dentist appointments, ask your doctor if they recommend adding fluoride to your routine or even doing a fluoride treatment in their office!
Many dentist offices offer fluoride treatment, including Team Popp Dental! We have seen a patient’s teeth go from worn enamel with pain and sensitivity to healthier and stronger teeth that are resistant to pain and plaque buildup!
When NOT to Use Fluoride
Despite all of its great qualities, fluoride is not a one-size-fits-all solution to dental health problems. Most importantly, if you are experiencing dental pain, don’t simply try to use fluoride treatments to ‘fix’ the problem yourself. Not all dental problems are caused by a lack of fluoride, and you could waste precious time trying to fix something that could never be resolved without a dentist’s intervention!
Instead, if you are unsure if fluoride would be a good solution for your tooth problems, always stop in our office first to see what the issue might be, and Dr. Tom, Dr. Colton, Dr. Leah, or Dr. Bryson can examine it and give you their professional recommendation.
Another good time to be careful of fluoride is with young children. Ingesting a small amount of fluoride is healthy for our bodies. But consuming an unregulated or large amount can be toxic, especially in children. Before the age of two, most children don’t know how to spit and rinse their toothpaste after brushing and instead swallow their toothpaste. This is fine as long as they are using a child-safe toothpaste that is not high in fluoride. Don’t use adult toothpaste on children, and be cautious about what kind of oral cleaning substances they can access.
If a child or an adult consumes a toxic amount of fluoride, the signs usually first appear with dental fluorosis. This condition causes tooth enamel to become discolored and is a good indicator that there is too much fluoride in the rest of the body, too. Excess exposure to fluoride can cause low thyroid function, learning and behavioral challenge, and bone fragility. These are all good reasons to be careful when administering fluoride to yourself as an adult, but especially to young children.
Trust Us With Your Teeth!
Thankfully you don’t have to figure all of this out on your own! Our family-run team of dentists, pediatric dentists, and orthodontists at Team Popp Dental is ready to ensure that your family has the healthiest teeth possible! We are always here to answer your questions and hope that you rely on our expertise to advise when to use fluoride and other devices to support your teeth. Healthy teeth are our hallmark, and we hope you give us a call at one of our offices in Hixson or Gunbarrel when you are ready for your next cleaning!