Last week we posted the introduction of this two-part post on the effect of fluoride on our teeth.
- Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally occurring in the Earth’s crust
- A healthy amount of fluoride helps strengthen teeth and protects them against cavities
- Fluoride is found in the majority of toothpaste brands, and is added to many municipal water sources, including Toronto’s water
- Most common water filtration devices do not remove fluoride
While fluoride is helpful in strengthening the enamel that protects the teeth, it is possible to consume too much fluoride.
The primary complication of an extreme amount of fluoride ingestion is called fluorosis, which is observed as spots on the teeth. Fluorosis can affect primary (baby) teeth as well as adult teeth. Initially, this mottling of the teeth appears as white spots. The white spots signify areas in the enamel that are subject to decay. With time, white spots begin to turn brown, and are at risk of turning into cavities. The degree to which these spots appear is related to the degree of fluorosis.
In addition to the cosmetic issues of fluorosis, it is important to visit a dentist who will also address the risk for tooth decay. A consultation with your dentist will help you determine which of the following options is best for you:
Take note of some common culprits that can lead to over ingestion of fluoride:
- Swallowing toothpaste
- Parents should monitor children when they are brushing to ensure they spit out toothpaste
- Parents should only use a rice grain sized amount of toothpaste when brushing infants teeth
- Eating foods with high concentration of fluoride (like grapes and raisins) and failing to brush afterwards
- Drinking a copious amount of dark leaf teas, as some tea plants absorb a great deal of natural fluoride from the earth
- Use of topical fluoride treatments administered without a dentist
- Use of fluoride tablets when not doctor or dentist recommended
And of course, it is never to late to adopt preventative lifestyle changes. Good oral hygiene and frequent visits to the dentist are essential.