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    Fluoride FAQ

    Posted on July 28th, 2014 by Dr. Peter Tomaselli

    Your dentist may have spoken with you about fluoride, and how it is good for your teeth. But do you really know what it is and why it helps you keep your smile healthy? We answer your questions below.

    What is fluoride? Fluoride is a natural mineral, proven to protect your teeth against cavities and decay.

    Why is this mineral added to water and toothpaste? People of any age can benefit from fluoride. The benefits include fewer and less severe cavities, less pain from tooth decay and a reduced need for fillings and tooth extractions.

    How does fluoride prevent decay? By keeping tooth enamel strong, fluoride can stop - and even reverse - the process of tooth decay. This decay stems from specific bacteria inside your mouth. When you eat sugar and carbohydrates, the bacteria produces acid, removing minerals from your teeth's surface. Fluoride will help to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevent cavities.

    What are some sources of fluoride? Fluoride occurs naturally in drinking water, and depending on where you live, your public water system may add fluoride to drinking water. You can call your local public water system to find out more information about this. In addition to water, toothpastes are a common source of fluoride, and gels, restorative materials, and varnishes containing fluoride may be prescribed to you by a dental professional. 

    Can you have too much fluoride? Excessive exposure to fluoride can affect people of all ages, but especially children under age 8. Over a lifetime, it can increase your chance of bone fractures, and pain and tenderness in the mouth. For children, too much fluoride can develop pits in the tooth enamel and lead to cosmetic issues of the teeth, as children's teeth are still in the formative phase.

    How can I learn more about fluoride and limit exposure? Speak with your dentist about the best use of fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Continue brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, and supervise your child's brushing to make sure they do not swallow too much toothpaste. 

    Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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