When it comes to tooth decay, everyone talks about fluoride toothpaste. Moreover, everyone speaks the positive part of fluoride toothpaste.
In my opinion, fluoride toothpaste is A double-edged sword. It has its advantage and disadvantage.
Fluoride toothpaste is boon to our society if used legitimately and conservatively. So, let’s dig deep into the topic for a better understanding.
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Fluoride is an essential mineral to the body. On the other hand, it is a crucial element in controlling dental caries in humans.
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In the united states, water fluoridation is one of the top 10 community-level healthcare achievements. On average, the US government spends 72 cents per person for water fluoridation.
Fluoride plays a crucial role in reducing caries in adults. On the other hand, it is harmful in children below six years of age. Excess fluoride use in children can lead to dental fluorosis.
History says that water fluoridation during world war II has shown a 50% to 60% decrease in tooth decay.
The fluoride in water enters saliva. The salivary fluoride forms a layer on the teeth making it decay resistant.
WHEN TO USE FLUORIDE?
Recently one of my readers has asked me a question. “Doctor! I am experiencing an increase in tooth decay after discontinuing fluoride toothpaste?”
He has been using a fluoride toothpaste for 24 years. Now, he thought of stopping it but was afraid of an increase in caries incidence.
I think many of you have the same question in your mind. So, let us try to demystify the enigma of using fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride is the 13th most abundant element on the earth. You find fluoride in everything, starting from the water you drink to the fruits you eat.
But excess fluoride is harmful. It can cause severe hormonal disturbances and can alter bone metabolism in growing children.
Hence fluoride supplements should be used only in case of suspected fluoride deficiency. Unnecessary or excess use of this element is harmful.
EFFECT OF FLUORIDE ON TEETH
Fluoride has a strong affinity to teeth. To know how the fluoride effects tooth, you should know the normal physiology of tooth formation.
For your understanding, I am simplifying the complex process of tooth formation.
The tooth is made of organic and inorganic components, which form structures called HYDROXY-APETITE CRYSTALS/calcium hydroxy apetite [Ca5(PO4)3(OH)]. In simple terms, the hydroxy-apetite-crystals are the building blocks of any tooth.
They are the most substantial part of the tooth and help in providing the structure and function to the tooth.
But unfortunately, fluoride has a strong affinity to the hydroxy apetite and reacts with them to form FLUOR-APETITE crystals/ calcium fluorophosphate [Ca5(PO4)3F].
As a result, the chemical composition of the tooth is altered under the influence of fluoride.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF FLUORIDE ON TEETH?
I think by now, everyone got an idea of how fluoride works on the tooth. The fluoride affected teeth are highly resistant to caries. Bacteria find a tough time in degrading such teeth.
In simple words, the fluor-apetite crystal is highly caries resistant.
Hence research found that teeth treated with fluoride have less caries prevalence.
WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF FLUORIDE ON TEETH?
Fluoride on developing teeth has a devastating effect. Fluoride impregnated fluor-apetite crystal produces severe pigmentation on teeth. Moreover, they are brittle and are weak.
Such a condition is called DENTAL FLUOROSIS.
The use of high fluoride in water is one common reason where we observe dental fluorosis.
Recently researchers found the use of high fluoride-containing toothpaste as another potential cause for dental fluorosis.
WHEN SHOULD I USE FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE?
Fluoride toothpaste is useful once the teeth erupt. Moreover, the fluoride toothpaste is advised only to high caries risk patients.
On the other hand, the patient who is caries-free and is out of caries risk can stop using fluoride toothpaste.
WHEN SHOULD I AVOID FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE?
Fluoride toothpaste should be used only on your dentist’s advice.
They are not advisable in children below six years of age. Moreover, children not under caries risk should better avoid these pastes. Such patients should prefer Fluoride-free toothpaste.
Here is a list of Fluoride free toothpaste. Fluoride free toothpastes are ideal for children with low caries risk. Unnecessary use of fluoride can result in harmful effects in children. So be cautious!
Read more about fluoride tooth pastes in children.
Fluoride pastes are highly contraindicated in children before tooth eruption. Any exposure to high fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis is a condition where the fluor-apatite crystals get deposited while tooth formation. It results in brownish stains intermixed with white opaque areas on teeth.
Read more about dental fluorosis here:
Identifying the right person for fluoride tooth paste is necessary. Fluoride pastes proved to be effective in decreasing the caries incidence. Remember! not everyone are suitable for Fluoride pastes.
Hence use the with caution. Happy brushing!
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