Fluoride is an important mineral that contributes a great deal to our dental health. A naturally occurring element, it is widely found around the world and is present to varying degrees in most water sources. Over the last century, dentists and other oral health professionals have found ways to use fluoride to enhance dental treatments and the health of our teeth and gums. However, even with that track record, some people still have questions about fluoride and how safe it is for use by humans. Well, never fear: fluoride, as used by dentists and in public health, is perfectly safe. There’s some interesting research into this, some of which is fairly recent in origin.
How Safe is Fluoride?
A great many concerns about fluoride safety have come up over the years, and they chiefly focus on two things. On one hand, some folks were worried about a potential link between fluoride use and osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Those concerns were investigated and multiple studies—including one published in the Journal of Dental Research—found that fluoridation was not associated with an increased risk of osteosarcoma. By comparing findings of different groups with different exposures to fluoridation, the scientists were able to determine fluoride is not a cause of this form of cancer, and indeed does a lot of good for our health.
Other concerns about fluoride safety have to do with its potential for neurotoxicity, which may in turn lead to cognitive issues due to overexposure. Recently however the journal the Archives of Toxicology published a study which explored this issue. They found that any link between fluoride and neurotoxicity was the result of extreme overexposure in remote rural communities which highly contaminated drinking water. Fluoride as used in most of the world was found to be a perfectly safe thing, with a great many health benefits.
So as it turns out, we’ve shown yet again that fluoride is not only safe but healthy. This raises another question—what does fluoride do for our teeth, exactly?
The Benefits of Fluoride
Fluoride plays an important role in the demineralization/remineralization process your teeth undergo naturally every day. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and then produce waste acids that can eat away at your tooth enamel. This can weaken and potentially damage your teeth by stripping away vital minerals in a process called demineralization. However, your saliva helps counteract this process via remineralization, during which saliva returns minerals to the teeth and helps strengthen them thus preventing damage. Fluoride is one of the minerals which takes part in that process, keeping your teeth strong and healthy.
Fluoride is important, however your body can’t produce it on its own. To help with that, fluoride is often added to drinking water and to toothpastes and mouthwashes. This helps your body both get the fluoride it needs and get it to the right place—your teeth! It’s a simple and easy way to preserve public health and fill the world with bright and happy smiles!
Hopefully, this helps address any questions you may have had about fluoride and your dental health. Whatever your dental care needs, Plage Dentistry is here to help, so get in touch today and we’ll schedule an appointment as soon as possible.