What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral – it is found in drinking water and is also present in a number of different types of food and drink.
Why do we need fluoride?
Getting plenty of fluoride is a major defence in the fight against tooth decay, which is why it is often added to the water that we drink, as well as to various foods and dental products. Tooth decay is a big problem, both in the UK and all over the world, and anything that can be done to reduce the issues that arise from it is a great investment in future generations.
What are the benefits of consuming fluoride?
The most attractive property of fluoride is that it helps to strengthen tooth enamel and make it better protected against decay. It can also help to keep the acid levels from the bacteria on your teeth below dangerous levels. It’s the acids in these bacteria that start the process of tooth decay by forming plaque and anything that can provide a shield against this is a great start.
Are there any particular benefits for children?
Children who have grown up with a good intake of fluoride tend to find that they have shallower grooves in the surface of their teeth. This means that removing plaque (the film of bacteria that is always forming and reforming over teeth) becomes a much easier job.
What are the dangerous of too little fluoride?
Without fluoride, tooth decay can become a real problem. Throughout the day we consume all sorts of food and drink and these tend to build up that plaque layer, in particular food and drink that is higher in sugar. Without any – or enough – fluoride our teeth are not well defended against the attacks from the bacteria that come with food and drink consumption and we can experience all sorts of issues, from mild decay through to the need to have a significant number of extractions, which may be the only solution to severe dental pain.
When we consume fluoride in our water, toothpaste and some foods, it is perfectly safe. Dental fluorosis is the only major risk, a condition that can occur in some children who have been exposed to too much fluoride. However, it’s not common for this to affect the appearance of the teeth and, in general, fluoride plays a positive role in preventative dentistry and is something all of us should make sure we get enough of.