29 Victoria Street, Ballarat
East VIC 3350 Australia
Phone : (03) 5332 3043
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We’ve heard people talk about toothpaste with no fluoride, or avoid drinking tap water “because there is fluoride in it”. People seem to be worried about it and think that it could cause many different health conditions such as cancer, bone problems or even autism. Is that true, or is it just more fake news from the internet? What is fluoride? Is it dangerous? We asked our dentists at Bakery Hill Dental to tell us about it.
Fluoride is a mineral. It is found naturally in Earth’s crust, in rocks, in your bones, and in water at different levels. You’ll also find it naturally in foods such as apples, tea, almonds, eggs, meat and fish. Most water sources in Australia have low levels of fluoride in it naturally.
Everyday, many minerals are added and lost from the enamel layer of your teeth through 2 processes called mineralization and demineralization. You lose minerals in your teeth because acids from bacteria and sugar in your mouth attacks your teeth. And you deposit new minerals (such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride) back to your teeth through the water you drink and the foods you eat. If you lose more minerals than you gain (by eating too many sweets or having poor oral hygiene), you won’t be able to keep up with the repairs of your enamel and you will start experiencing tooth decay.
Fluoride helps prevent this by making your teeth stronger against acid attacks from bacteria and sugar. It also speeds up the remineralization and disrupts the production of acids from bacteria.
For the vast majority of people, no. Avoiding fluoride can have bad consequences for your teeth. The levels of fluoride found in your tap water or in your toothpaste are controlled, so you don’t have to worry about it. It can become an issue when it is misused by swallowing the toothpaste all the time instead of spitting it out, but you don’t have to worry about the small amounts of toothpaste left in your mouth after you spit: it does not form any dangers to your health because of the very small concentration in it. You should however monitor your children when they brush their teeth and maybe avoid flavored toothpaste for them. If you have any excess fluoride, your body will get rid of it in your urine.
True, when fluoridated toothpaste and mouth-rinse are misused, it can cause problems like fluorosis. But the same happens if you ingest ridiculous amounts of other minerals such as too much calcium through supplements. Even though the mineral calcium can cause problems if taken without following recommendations, it doesn’t stop you from eating a lot of calcium rich foods. It’s the same with the mineral fluoride, you do not need to be afraid of it. Fluoride, like calcium, is your friend!
If you have any more concerns about fluoride, ask your dentist next time you come to visit. They will be happy to answer all of your questions!