Fluoride is a mineral that naturally occurs in water and some foods. This mineral works to fight tooth decay and strengthens enamel. Fluoride can be found in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and community water supplies. Here is a brief overview about the basics of fluoride.
History of Water Fluoridation
In the 1930’s, scientists realized that people who lived in areas where the water supply was high in naturally occurring fluoride had fewer cavities. This discovery eventually lead to the first attempt at water fluoridation in 1945 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. Today, nearly 75% of community water systems in the U.S. are fluoride supplemented, which has reduced tooth decay by 25%
Nature’s Cavity Fighter
Fluoride prevents tooth decay by:
- Strengthening enamel resistance to acids
- Remineralizing enamel and speeding up this process
- Reversing early stages of tooth decay
- Developing enamel before permanent teeth erupt
- Disrupting acid production
Cautions of Fluoride Use
Fluoride is safe and its benefits far outweigh any cautions. However, like all things, if taken in excess it can cause problems. Products containing fluoride like toothpastes and mouthwashes shouldn’t be consumed. If this is done and in large quantities, it can be toxic, especially for small children. Fluorosis, white streaks in the teeth, can also occur with too much fluoride use, though this condition is not dangerous.