Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, with a hardness that’s comparable to steel. As your first line of defense against cavities, enamel provides a strong barrier that bacteria can’t penetrate — unless, of course, your enamel is weakened or damaged.
A lot of enamel happens when acids break down the enamel layer by layer, a process called demineralization. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps protect teeth, replenishing lost minerals and restoring damaged areas so teeth can stay strong and impermeable.
But, as important as fluoride is in maintaining oral health, its use is also surrounded by myths and misinformation, despite the fact that it’s been successfully protecting teeth for more than 50 years.
At Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, gives topical fluoride treatments to her patients to help them prevent tooth decay and the pain and damage it causes. In this post, she reviews some of the common myths surrounding fluoride to help her patients learn the facts behind its use.
Fact: Fluoride is a natural mineral that’s found in the soil, air, and water. However, the amount of fluoride found naturally in water is not enough to prevent teeth from forming cavities. That’s where in-office fluoride applications can help.
Fact: It’s true that most toothpastes contain some amount of fluoride, and using these products regularly can help prevent the development of tooth decay to some degree. Unfortunately, a lot of the fluoride usually doesn’t have a chance to penetrate the tooth and protect it, because it’s rinsed off after brushing. In-office fluoride treatments use a brush-on formulation that’s designed to penetrate tooth enamel quickly.
Fact: There’s no evidence that fluoride treatments cause cancer. In fact, there are studies that disprove this myth. Furthermore, many cancer specialists and treatment centers recommend fluoride treatments to patients who have cancer as a way to mitigate damage done to enamel by chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Fact: The American Dental Association recognizes that fluoride provides benefits to both kids and adults, hailing fluoride as “safe and effective” in preventing tooth decay in people of all ages. It makes sense: Demineralization of the tooth surface can happen no matter how old you are, and since fluoride helps replace those lost minerals, treatment at any age could help repair enamel and prevent future cavities.
Fact: This belief may revolve, in part, around dental fluorosis, which is a condition that causes white streaks in the enamel of developing teeth. Fluorosis primarily occurs in young kids who have high levels of fluoride in their drinking water.
However, when deciding on the strength of a fluoride treatment for a young child, Dr. Faraj takes into account whether or not the child is from a community where water is fluoridated. So, you can rest assured that your child can enjoy all the benefits of an in-office treatment. It’s also important to note that fluorosis is only a small risk for teeth that are still developing. Older kids and adults don’t develop fluorosis.
Applied to the surfaces of the teeth, in-office fluoride treatments take just a few minutes, and they’re completely painless. They’re also a great choice for people of all ages, including people who wear braces and those with chronic oral health issues, such as a history of decay or dry mouth.
If you’d like to learn how fluoride can play an important role in helping your teeth stay healthy, call 313-646-7903 or book an appointment online with Novi Family Dentistry today.