Fluoride — The Tooth Superhero
First, it was vaccines. Now, it’s fluoride.
One unfortunate consequence of the Internet is it can provide anyone with a platform that, to the truly uninformed, can seem like legitimate information. That’s how a former Playboy centerfold became the voice of the brainless movement to not vaccinate your children. After all, who wouldn’t want the return of polio and measles, all because of some trumped up hearsay evidence of vaccines supposedly being dangerous. Uh, more dangerous than polio?
The latest Internet-fueled stupidity is that fluoride is actually poisoning us. Seeing how it is added to municipal water supplies to help prevent decay in teeth, these proponents advocate removing it from the water and from your daily life.
While this line of thinking, devoid of any scientific evidence to the detrimental qualities of fluoride, would be good for the bottom line of dentists such as Dr. Kalil and Dr. Kress — we’d have a bounty of new decay to treat — it’s a horrible thing for your oral health.
There is a ton of evidence about the benefits of fluoride in preventing tooth decay. Fluoride was first added to the municipal water supply in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945 as a national test case. After 11 years, the cavity rate among Grand Rapids children born after fluoride had been added to the water supply dropped by over 60 percent! There have been dozens of other studies over the years with the same findings. Even now, new evidence suggests that fluoride isn’t only beneficial for kids’ teeth, but it helps adults fight off tooth decay, too, particularly older adults.
Here’s how this tooth superhero does its tooth protecting.
What is it and how does fluoride protect your teeth?
You can sort of equate your teeth with a mine in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Where minerals are coming and going all day long. Demineralization and remineralization — those are the two processes where minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer. Demineralization is the problem. Minerals are lost from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids, formed from the bacteria in plaque and sugars in the mouth, attack the enamel. Fortunately, when you eat foods and drink water, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate remineralize the teeth. The balance is what’s important. Too much demineralization without remineralization results in tooth decay.
People who think we should take fluoride out of the water supply are missing one little other fact — fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. That’s right, you can find it in many foods and in natural water. Good luck signing a petition to remove fluoride from pickles, white wine, spinach, oysters, carrots, green and black teas, various fruit juices, Russet potatoes, asparagus, and even chicken.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to those acids from bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride also has the cool effect of reversing early cases of decay. For kids under 6, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. This makes the teeth resistant to the assault of acids trying to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also speeds remineralization and disrupts acid production in the mouth.
When is fluoride the most beneficial?
It was originally thought that only children benefit from fluoride, but new research shows that topical fluoride from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments is important to help adult teeth fight decay. For children, it’s long been known that children between 6 months and 16 years need fluoride to help build their teeth.
Fluoride treatments at Kalil & Kress
Conspiracy theorists aside, fluoride is one of your teeth’s best friends. At Kalil & Kress, we give our younger patients concentrated fluoride treatments, usually with fluoride gel in trays. But we can also provide fluoride for adults who have less-than-awesome enamel. Plus, seniors’ teeth need fluoride, especially to stem decay around long-placed cavities and such.
Is it time for your twice-yearly cleaning and exam? Call us at (603) 880-7004 to make your appointment.