Shelby Township Dentist Explains the Benefits of Fluoride

Question: Fluoridation affords benefits to children’s teeth is a given, but why adults? The compound has a downside. It is classified by the federal government as a rat poison, and, hence, has a deleterious cumulative effect. And its use has been reversed by a number of European countries. Your current thoughts, please. Norman M.

Answer: In any treatment we as health professionals must weigh out the risk to benefits. This is a good question and I would like to look at the benefits first:

Fluoride is both an antimicrobial, (meaning it kills off the bacteria that causes dental disease) and a mineral that strengthens teeth. Typically when bacteria are present the teeth become sensitive to cold or hot. As an antimicrobial, fluoride desensitizes teeth that have the roots exposed. This is usually done after periodontal surgery or periodontal scaling and root planning.

Fluoride is also used to strengthen teeth that have been damaged by dental decay. This is very prevalent in our society where our mature patients are on numerous drugs that dry out the saliva. Saliva in a healthy person bathes the teeth in minerals, enzymes and other protective nutrients. As long as the diet doesn’t contain large amounts of sugars and carbohydrates the natural protective nature of saliva is adequate for protecting the soft tissues of the mouth and teeth. When we eat food high in carbohydrates the surface of the teeth microscopically dissolve. Healthy saliva will re-mineralize the surface. In those who have minimal saliva from medications, cancer treatment or poor oral hygiene need an extra boost to protect the teeth. When using a fluoride rinse, the fluoride mineral is reabsorbed on the surface of the tooth, making it more resistant to decay. In office treatment alternatives consist of a thick fluoride varnishes that are professionally applied that stick to the teeth and protect without leaching into the blood stream. Several studies have shown that two applications per year may provide comparable results to the fluoride gels that are applied daily. The application is fast and easy. Professional prophylaxis is not necessary, and the patient can leave immediately after the treatment. No acute toxicity has been reported after using any fluoride varnish. Med Princ Pract. 2004 Nov-Dec;13(6):307-11.

The risks of fluoride in high doses can, like many medications, be deleterious and toxic to your health. Actually, studies and the reason why water fluoridation (ingestion) has been banned in Europe is they have shown that it is not effective in preventing dental decay in children and there is some evidence that it can cause cancer and other ailments. The topical applications using toothpaste and rinses have been shown to be effective in the prevention of decay especially in adult patients. In fact, as a precautionary measure to limit ingesting fluoride there is actually a warning on toothpastes that if children ingest more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste the poison control number should be called. This seems a bit drastic, but it has been established that too much fluoride can cause problems.The swallowing of the fluoride is where the concerns are and not the superficial application of it.

Shelby Township Dentist Explains the Benefits of Flouride

Dr Antolak practices dentistry in Shelby Township, Michigan.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Antolak at:586-247-3500

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