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Flouride in Dentistry

Tooth decay

Tooth decay, also known as dental decay or dental caries, is a major health concern worldwide despite being preventable. Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth tissue caused by acids made by bacteria in dental plaque. Dental plaque is a sticky film that constantly forms on the teeth. Each time you have sugary food and drink, the bacteria in plaque produce acid that attacks teeth.

If you eat or drink sugary foods frequently throughout the day, you have more "acid attacks" which can lead to tooth decay. This can eventually lead to cavities (holes) in the teeth and infection, which is why teeth sometimes need to be removed.

Effective and natural

Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, is proven to prevent cavities by making the outer surface of teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks from plaque and sugars that cause tooth decay. It also creates less need for fillings and tooth extractions and less pain and suffering associated with tooth decay.

Natural occurrence of fluoride

Fluorine is freely available in nature. It is a highly reactive element, and mostly occurs as fluorspar (Calcium fluoride) or fluorapatite Ca10(PO4) F2. oxidation state of fluoride is - 1 to be found in rocks and soil, vegetables and grains, as well as in fresh and salt water. The fluoride found in the environment however is not sufficient on its own to protect your teeth, which is why small supplemental amounts are added to the water supply, as well as into toothpaste, rinses, lozenges, chewable tablets, drops; and by the dental profession in the professional application of gels, foams and varnishes.

This is particularly important for children under the age of six, where exposure to more fluoride than is required to simply prevent dental caries can cause dental fluorosis. Provided that the total daily intake of fluoride is carefully monitored, fluoride is considered to be a most important health measure in maintaining oral health for all Indians.

IDA recognizes the need to monitor the scientific literature with respect to levels of exposure to fluoride and general health to ensure the continued safe and effective use of fluorides in dentistry.

How does Fluoride work?

Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. Every day, minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer thanks to plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth (demineralization). When a person eats sugar and other refined carbohydrates, these bacteria produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of the tooth. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from continuing to form. Too much demineralization without enough remineralization to repair the enamel layer leads to tooth decay.

Fluoride benefits both children and adults. Here's how:

  • Before teeth break through the gums, the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements makes tooth enamel (the hard surface of the tooth) stronger, making it easier to resist tooth decay. This provides what is called a "systemic" benefit.
  • After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides what is called a "topical" benefit.

In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth with tiny amounts of fluoride that help rebuild weakened tooth enamel.

It's good for you

Fluoride consumption has been scientifically-proven to be of extensive benefit to consumers, with negligible adverse reactions. While “dental fluorosis”, small flecks which appear on tooth enamel, can result from ingesting too much fluoride, it’s rarely visible, and does not damage teeth and usually only results when young children are exposed to large amounts of adult strength fluoride toothpaste.

Overall, the benefits of fluoride are considerable. It remains the most cost-effective, fair and naturally-occurring way to keep your teeth healthy. And remember, to make the most of the advantages it affords you, you need to brush twice a day, maintain a healthy, balanced diet, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.

How Do I Get Fluoride?

Drink Water with Fluoride --
Fluoride is naturally found in most all water sources, rivers, lakes, wells and even the oceans. For the past 70 years, fluoride has been added to public water supplies to bring fluoride levels up to the amount necessary to help prevent tooth decay. Studies prove water fluoridation continues to help prevent tooth decay by at least 25% in children and adults, even with fluoride available from other sources, such as toothpaste.

IDA advocates for CWF

Community water fluoridation (CWF) is a safe and effective means of preventing dental decay. Our position is based on decades’ worth of overwhelming scientific evidence and is driven by our dedication to the provision of exemplary oral health care to our patients and communities. CWF has had a great effect in cavity prevention and there are additional effective approaches that should also be considered. Experts agree there is a need to strongly support the use of fluorides, particularly fluoridation of community water supplies. As this measure alone is insufficient for high risk groups, governments should also incorporate fluoride varnishes and remineralization agents into dental programs.

IDA recognizes and supports the use of fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses in the prevention of dental caries.
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Indian Dental Association
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