What does fluoride do for teeth? Benefits of fluoride

If you are wondering about the effects of fluoride on your teeth and asking “what does fluoride do for teeth?”, you are in the right place. Fluoride is extra protection against decay in your mouth. It is already found in many water sources, but some governments also add extra fluoride to make people use it. Besides, many dental products are extra fluoridated to decrease the chances of decay.

Fluoride creates a barrier over the teeth making them much more powerful against acidic and bacterial attacks. Decays occur less with the help of fluoride protection says many different studies. You might also have concerns about the usage since taking an overdose of fluoride is likely to cause you some problems like dental fluorosis.

We tried to explain all of these in this article to make you understand it better and keep your oral health with the help of fluoride.

So, here is the first question mark in everyone’s head.

Before starting, what is fluoride?

Fluoride is an antibacterial agent. It is naturally found in natural water sources and has beneficial effects, such as preventing cavities and promoting general oral health. It is found in tap water, foods, and toothpaste. Most governments use fluoride in water supplies to improve their societies’ general oral health.

What does fluoride do for your teeth?

Lots of people know that using fluoride is beneficial, but for which reasons, what does fluoride do for teeth? Generally, fluoride is beneficial for your oral health and needs to be consumed in the recommended amount. It fights back against cavities and creates a protective layer over your teeth.

Let’s say, you used toothpaste including fluoride, then what does fluoride toothpaste do for your teeth? It creates a protective layer for your tooth surface or enamel.

The surface layer of your teeth, enamel, keeps changing during the day. When it is attacked by the acidic food and bacteria leftovers, they rip apart some of the minerals, called demineralization. Right after this, the first defense mechanism of teeth starts building calcium phosphate over your teeth to protect its structure which is remineralization.

When these two procedures are balanced, you have no problem and everything is good. However, if there is not enough remineralization to cover the tooth structure, you lose some parts, and eventually, your tooth decays. To prevent this problem your body can benefit from fluorapatite. When fluoride from your salvia meets with the fighting soldiers of calcium phosphate, they merge and become fluorapatite. It is much more durable than calcium phosphate and reduces the chances of gum diseases.

Fluoride helps you fight against the acidity in your mouth that is eroding your teeth. It is an extra defense mechanism. When the mineralization is not enough, you get another barrier over your teeth with the help of fluoride. So, it is like wearing extra thick clothes when it is freezing outside. Extra thick clothes protect you from the cold, extra layer of fluoride protects you from sensitivity.

Hope we could give a satisfying answer to “what does fluoride do for teeth”. Now, let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of fluoride. 

What are the benefits and drawbacks of fluoride?

Although there are lots of benefits of fluoride, it can also be risky in high consumption leading to minor or serious problems. Your body’s fluoride levels play an important role in your oral health. As we said before, it helps you fight against cavities and improve your oral health in general. So, let’s see what the pros and cons of getting fluoride are.

Pros of fluoride

  • Fights back against tooth decay: Fluoride will hugely reduce the chances of getting tooth decay.
  • Protects your gums: Your gums will also be protected by fluoride. Since it reduces plaque formation, you will have fewer gum infections and gum diseases.
  • Keeps your enamel strong and covered: With the help of fluoride, your teeth stay intact and you are less likely to give up on your tooth or get a restorative treatment over your teeth.
  • Fewer emergency dentistry visits: It will hugely reduce the amount of money, time, and effort you spend on dentistry visits. Even governments know this fact and use fluoride in water supplies where it is possible.
  • Increases bone mineral density: Fluoride provides additional support for your bone health and increases your bone mineral density as well.

Cons of fluoride

  • Low fluoride threshold: Some people have a low level of fluoride threshold. Then the recommended amount will be different for you. It can be hard to keep track of it though your dentists can help you to find the optimal levels for you.
  • Recommended amount: While getting recommended amount is important, it can be hard to follow your fluoride intake. Some water suppliers and products highlight their products’ levels of fluoride but it is not possible for every water source.
  • Dental fluorosis: More than recommended level of fluoride consumption can lead to white spots on your teeth, dental fluorosis. It is generally seen in children while their permanent teeth are developing but rarely occurs in adulthood too. It is mostly an aesthetic concern. To prevent it keep your daily consumption of fluoride below 0,1 mg per kg.
  • Skeletal fluorosis: It can be dangerous if you are getting high amounts of fluoride for a long time leading to skeletal fluorosis. It is a rare condition affecting your skeleton, making them weak. If you continue getting it daily over 4mg per kg the fluoride can even be lethal.

Fluoride intake: how much do you need?

Recommended daily amount of fluoride intake is 0,05 – 0,07 mg per kg. You can control your toothpaste and water sources, they generally show you the number of particles per million scales. 1ppm means 1mg/l, you can do the math by looking at the descriptions of the water bottles or toothpaste.

Cavities are a good indicator of fluoride deficiency. If you think that you are getting lots of cavities in a year, other than many different reasons, you might not get enough fluoride through water or certain products. You can talk with your dentist to see if you are getting enough fluoride, and they’ll be able to tell you so.

Sources of fluoride

Fluoride is found in its ionic form of fluorine in nature, but it turns into fluoride combined with different salts in the mountains and underground rocks. It is possible to see fluoride in the soil and plants too that is why tea has fluoride in it. Especially, dried tea leaves are known to have a range of fluoride levels in them from 0.6 mg to 1.32 mg.

Governments and bottled water companies also use fluoridation of water to protect their society’s general oral health. The fluoridation of the community water system started around the 1940s. Since then, different ways of getting fluoride became possible, so most countries lowered their fluoridation of the water because of safety concerns.

The general amount of water fluoridation varies, but according to an FDA report, a maximum of 0.7 mg per liter of fluoridation is considered healthy.

Recommended fluoride amounts for children

As children’s body weight is way less than adults, and the amount of fluoride they can tolerate is as well. But it does not mean that they do not need fluoride. For babies, in their first six months, fluoride is not recommended at all. It is safe for children ages 1-6 as long as it does not pass the daily limit of 0.01mg per kg. After age 7, they might start getting the adult amount some dentists say.

Other ways of getting fluoride: products and treatments

Some of the fluoride treatments are basic solutions that you can use at home. Toothpaste with fluoride is the most used one. You can safely use fluoride toothpaste twice a day. People also use mouthwash and tablets if their dentists tell them so. Some others are professional fluoride treatments requiring in-office treatment with their high concentration of fluoride contents.

Here we explained the ways to get fluoride other than toothpaste.

  • Mouth rinses: Mouth rinses are a good way of improving your oral health. It is also safe for children to use and it works well with them too. According to a study made with elementary students, when children started using mouth rinses they showed fewer cavities after three years of usage.
  • Supplements: Flouride including chewing gums, throat lozenges, tablets, and drops are your extra options to prevent caries. Their safety concerns are still debatable so ask your dentist before using any of them.
  • Varnish: It is a professional fluoride treatment performed in the dental office. Fluoride varnish covers your teeth and hardens after the appliance. That hard tissue covers your teeth physically and makes them less susceptible to dental caries.
  • Tray: Fluoride tray is one of the other office fluoride treatments. You can benefit from it just like varnishing but it does not give you a cover, unlike varnish. It is still useful against cavities and makes your teeth stronger. There are two kinds of tray solutions; foam and gel. Both have their way of application but basically, they are concentrated fluoride suppliers for teeth. They include around 10,000 ppm concentration of fluoride.

What happens if I use fluoride-free products?

You lose the chance of protecting your teeth against bacteria. Fluoride-added products, especially toothpaste, are meant to keep your teeth away from bacteria, plaque formation, and tooth decay. When you use fluoride-free products, you let one of your important guards against tooth loss. This might end up with more necessary dental visits.

References:

-Buzalaf MAR. Review of Fluoride Intake and Appropriateness of Current Guidelines. Adv Dent Res. 2018;29(2):157-166. doi:10.1177/0022034517750850 Link

-Yeung CA, Chong LY, Glenny AM. Fluoridated milk for preventing dental caries. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;2015(9):CD003876. Published 2015 Sep 3. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003876.pub4 Link

-Maleki A, Daraei H, Mohammadi E, et al. Daily Fluoride Intake from Iranian Green Tea: Evaluation of Various Flavorings on Fluoride Release. Environ Health Insights. 2016;10:59-63. Published 2016 Mar 28. doi:10.4137/EHI.S38511 Link

-Asl Aminabadi N, Balaei E, Pouralibaba F. The Effect of 0.2% Sodium Fluoride Mouthwash in Prevention of Dental Caries According to the DMFT Index. J Dent Res Dent Clin Dent Prospects. 2007;1(2):71-76. doi:10.5681/joddd.2007.012 Link

-The use of fluoride in infants and children. Paediatr Child Health. 2002;7(8):569-582. doi:10.1093/pch/7.8.569 Link

-Guidelines for drinking-water quality: Fourth edition incorporating the first and second addenda (who.int)

-‌FDA Releases Final Rule for Added Fluoride Levels in Bottled Water | FDA

-Is Fluoridated Drinking Water Safe? | Harvard Public Health Magazine | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

× How can I help you?