You probably know that fluoride is great for you oral health and enamel strength. Today, I am going to tell you a little more about the history of fluoride, a little about the controversy, and my recommendations of how to get the most benefit from fluoride.
A Brief History of Fluoride
In the 1940s, the US started fluoridating water because they saw that fluoride helped in overall oral health. The ADA and the International Dental Federation are in support of adding fluoride to water because they believe in the dental health benefits.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, a few European countries removed fluoride from their water. Why? There are a few reasons, depending on who you ask. Either it wasn’t working as well as they hoped or it was because fluoride, in larger doses than what we intake, is poisonous.
Too Much of Anything
Well, if you think about it, too much of anything is bad for you – even poisonous in some cases! We eat fish that contain mercury, which is poisonous at certain amounts and levels of exposure.
A Surprising Overdose
Even things that seem harmless can be dangerous in large quantities.
I remember when I was in high school, there were 2 or 3 boys who were going through rush week at Oklahoma State University. They got in trouble for drinking underage so, to retaliate, they decided to drink a lot of water. A LOT. The amount that they drank affected the electrolytes in their system and they ended up dying from an overdose of water!
So, as you can see, too much of anything can be toxic.
Why do you need fluoride?
Fluoride is the only way that I know of to remineralize teeth. There are other products that claim to do it, but they all have fluoride in them!
Remineralization is important after you eat – especially if what you are eating contains sugar, refined grains, or acids. Anything you eat that has sugar or acid will affect the pH balance in your mouth. If you remember from your high school science classes, the pH of anything is based on the measure of acidity or basicity levels.
After eating something that increases the amount of acid in your mouth, it is important to remineralize so that the acid doesn’t spend a lot of time breaking down the enamel on your teeth.
Low and Constant
The best way to handle fluoride is to have a low and constant intake.
Here in Arvada, we have fluoride in our tap water, which is a great way to get that steady amount. If you drink bottled water, it may have fluoride. It really depends on where it was bottled.
What if I filter my water?
Don’t worry! Your standard Brita filter won’t remove fluoride from your water. If you are worried about other contaminants, feel free to filter your water.
The only way to remove fluoride is through a reverse osmosis system.
Where else can you get fluoride?
If you don’t drink much tap water, you can get more fluoride from other sources.
Here are some healthy foods that contain fluoride:
Crustaceans: crab and shrimp
Spinach (especially if you boil it in tap water)
As your family dentist, I want to give my opinion on a fluoride rinse.
ACT is great for rinsing after you eat. It will remineralize your teeth after eating high-sugar or acidic foods and drinks. Other than that, I don’t really like ACT.
Although not a fluoride rinse, for the best oral health, I recommend Listerine. It will help you with gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. If you have swollen, bleeding gums, Listerine should be your best friend. (Along with your floss and toothbrush, of course.)
So there you have it. Fluoride is the best way to take care of your teeth and the strength of your enamel. If you have any questions about whether you are getting enough or not, feel free to contact our office.
~Dr. Halee Lesch