What is Fluoride?
Flouride is a “chemical” compound (remember: chemical isn’t exactly a bad word. everything is a chemical compound of some sort!). that contains the natural element flourine. Flouride in small amounts can help strengthen the enamel of your teeth and prevent tooth decay.
What does Fluoride Do?
When there aren’t sufficient amounts of fluoride occuring naturally, many communities choose to add fluoride to their water supplies. Research by the ADA has shown that these fluoridation efforts have reduced cavities in children by up to 50%. On top of this, fluoride is also added to many dental products like toothpaste, mouthwash, rinses, and more.
Fluoride protects your family’s teeth by working against the loss of minerals in your tooth enamel. Your tooth enamel relies on mineralization to stay tough and strong. However, acids and general wear-and-tear are constantly working against your enamel. Fluoride helps strengthen these weakened areas, while also discouraging bacteria and acid that work away at your teeth around the clock. This protection can help prevent cavities and the need for more extensive treatments like dental crowns, dental bridgework, or full replacement treatments further down the road -like dentures.
Our dental office in Garden Grove, California frequently recommends supplemental fluoride to patients who are prone to cavity, or those who have weak enamel.
So what’s with all the controversy about fluoride? Is it safe?
The story of fluoride is a long, complicated, and contentious one. Legitimate science has been muddied by government conspiracy theories, questionable science, and strong opinions.
Over time, there have been many studies on the effectiveness and safety of fluoride. However, according to Cancer.org – much of the controversy begins with a 1990 study on lab animals, as part of the US National Toxicology Program. That study found inconclusive evidence of fluoride’s cancer causing potential in male rats. This was based on a higher-than expected occurrence of a certain type of bone-cancer. However, there was no evidence of the same problem in female rats – or in male or female mice.
On top of this, the National Research Council updated a 1993 report in 2006, re-iterating their conclusion that “On the basis of the committee’s collective consideration of data from humans, genotoxicity assays, and studies of mechanisms of actions in cell systems, the evidence on the potential of fluoride to initiate or promote cancers, particularly of the bone, is tentative and mixed.”
For our patients in California, it can also be helpful to know that in 2011 – our state’s Carcinogen Identification Committee also reviewed the available evidence and concluded that fluoride has not been shown to cause cancer.
Have more questions? We have answers! Your family’s teeth are important to us. To learn more about how to prepare your teeth for the future — drop us a line!