An element naturally found in water, soil, and select minerals, fluoride is one of the most abundant substances in the Earth's crust. While it's found virtually everywhere on the planet in various amounts, fluoride is also synthetically produced in laboratories for use in some dental products, such as fluoride dental treatments and toothpaste. In areas where fluoride levels are low in the natural water supply, water treatment plants add a little more before delivering water to residents specifically for dental health reasons. Following are some other surprising things you might not know about the element fluoride and how it pertains to dental health.
Fluoride Prevents Tooth Decay
In the 1930s, scientists discovered that people who lived in areas with high concentrations of fluoride in the natural water supply had fewer cavities. Curiosity led to more studies, which ultimately found that fluoride decreases the prevalence of tooth decay and protects teeth against acid erosion. Fluoride does this by protecting the teeth from demineralization and by strengthening the teeth through remineralization. What this means is that fluoride creates a protective layer on the teeth that prevents erosion. Additionally, it fills in weak areas and makes them strong once again.
Age at Time of Treatment Matters
While anyone can benefit from a dental fluoride treatment, people who are the most susceptible to tooth decay - smokers, sugar lovers, and those with poor dental hygiene - stand to gain the most from treatment as do children. According to studies, treatments given to children between the ages of 6 months to 16 years of age have the most affect. Older people who are prone to decay and gum disease also benefit greatly from this treatment.
Too Much Fluoride Is Bad for Teeth
Although the American Medical Association and American Dental Association recommend fluoride treatments for virtually everyone, too much of a good thing can be bad. Children between the ages of 20 and 30 months who receive too much fluoride can develop a condition called dental fluorosis, a condition that affects permanent teeth. Symptoms include rough and pitted teeth, discoloration and dark stains. All young children who receive high doses of fluoride can get this condition, but the risk usually subside around the age of 8.
Throughout the years, the use of fluoride in dental treatments has come under attack. However, studies continue to prove that fluoride is an important element when it comes to good dental hygiene and dental health.
For more information, check out dentists such as Ellsworth & Day DDS.