What Do Fluoride Treatments Do?
Fluoride treatments are common in dental offices, public health centers, and schools. Although fluoride has largely been accepted as a dental treatment, there are still some who are uncertain about what fluoride actually does in the body. Fluoride can be delivered in several ways, though its primary application is in the support of healthy teeth.
Fluoride in Drinking Water
Fluoride has been placed in drinking water for decades. The advent of fluoride’s use as a dental treatment has afforded parents, dentists, and public health officials alike with a largely safe and effective way to ward off tooth decay and damage.
Treating Municipal Water
Fluoride was first added to city and state water supplies in the 1940s. This was done after it was determined that fluoride was able to prevent tooth decay in children and adults. Although water fluoridation has remained something of a controversial practice, countless cities and states offer a small amount of fluoride in water systems to prevent cavities and subsequently improve public health.
Improving the Risk of Cavities
Cavity risk decreases sharply when fluoride is administered. Toothpastes, water, rinses, and more can be used to improve the dental health of populations.
Fluoride in Dentistry
Fluoride is used a great deal in dentistry for its applications in protecting your teeth against cavities and decay. Fluoride has several applications in dental health, ranging from home use to use within restorative dentistry itself. For decades upon decades, dentists have relied on fluoride to intervene in the advent or continuation of tooth rot and damage.
Fluoridated toothpaste is perhaps the most well-known use of fluoride in dental offices. Sugar and other food items and beverages produce acidic compounds, which attach to teeth and eat into enamel. Brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste reduces the risk of cavities substantially.
Fluoridated Mouth Rinses and Washes
Mouth rinses and washes can also offer the benefits of fluoride. These are typically used for older children or adults to ward against cavities in permanent teeth, due to the risk of swallowing and experiencing harm. These are often offered in schools and may be provided by dentists via a prescription or in-office purchase.
Fluoride treatments are applied directly to teeth in concentrations that far exceed the concentrations found in toothpaste and rinses. These treatments are designed to be applied and quickly removed to deliver concentrated levels of fluoride to the teeth and improve health without risking any of the negative components of fluoride.
How Fluoride Influences Oral Health
Fluoride has most often been used to improve oral health, though excessive use has been linked to other health issues. Excessive use is not common in areas with fluoridated water, such as many states in the US, but can be found in other contexts and parts of the world.
Consumed or utilized in excess, fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis. This is a harmless condition characterized by white spots in teeth and primarily affects young children. There have also been some studies linking neurological damage to people who consume or use too much fluoride.