Drinking Water, Fluoride & Your Teeth

How do you choose your water — tap, bottled or purified? Have you ever bothered to check what comes with the water you drink?
There’s an escalating controversy about fluoride and general health.
On one hand, pro-platforms stand on fluoride being an essential mineral for oral health. On the other, cons expound on fluoride-associated dangers like bone fractures, osteosarcoma and low IQ.
Benefits of Fluoride
  • Fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to tooth decay.
  • It reduces the amount of acid the bacteria on your teeth produce.
  • Studies say children with fluoride on their developing teeth developing tend to have shallower grooves in their teeth, making their teeth easier to clean.
  • It helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay can be seen.
  • The addition of fluoride to water has been researched for over 50 years, and water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay by 40-60%.
The American Dental Association (ADA) continues to endorse fluoridation of community water supplies as safe and effective for preventing cavities. The ADA recognizes that fluoride deficiency places individuals of any age at risk for tooth decay.
What happens when one gets too much fluoride?
Have you ever wondered what happens when your child swallows toothpaste while brushing?
Dental fluorosis is a change in the appearance of the tooth’s enamel, commonly causing white spots that stain the teeth. Fluorosis is triggered by too much exposure to fluoride when the teeth are developing. This can happen when fluoride supplements are taken by children age 8 or younger who live in areas where the water supply is fluoridated. It can also happen when children swallow toothpaste. Remember to teach your child to spit out toothpaste after brushing.
Dental Fluorosis Classification by H.T. Dean–1942212
Classification Criteria Description of Enamel
Normal Smooth, glossy, pale creamy-white translucent surface
Questionable A few white flecks or white spots
Very Mild Small opaque, paper-white areas covering less than 25% of the tooth surface
Mild Opaque white areas covering less than 50% of the tooth surface
Moderate All tooth surface affected; marked wear or biting surfaces; brown stain may be present
Severe All tooth surfaces affected; discrete or confluent pitting; brown stain present
How much fluoride should parents use to clean their child’s teeth?
As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should use no more than a smear or rice-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children less than three years of age and no more than a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste is appropriate for children aged three to six.
Is your drinking water fortified with fluoride?
Comparison of a smear (left) with a pea-sized (right) amount of toothpaste.
Updated: 15 March 2016

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