Since the 1960s, fluoride has been added to the drinking water of 75% of our population because of its benefits in promoting strong, healthy teeth. As with any action such as this, people raise concerns about whether the substance has any unwanted side effects.
At Peninsula Dental Excellence, Drs. Jeff Yoshihara and Colin Au prefer that patients have the right information to make informed decisions, especially when it comes to their dental health. With that goal, we explore here what fluoride is, how it benefits our teeth, and whether there are any causes for concern.
What exactly is fluoride?
We’ve grown up hearing about the many benefits of fluoride, but many of us don’t really know what this agent is. Fluorides are typically a combination of fluorine and another compound, such as metal. Fluorides occur naturally in the earth, water, and air around us, though water is where it’s found in the most abundance.
The reason why fluoride is connected to good dental health is its ability to strengthen areas that are calcium-rich, such as your teeth and bones. Unfortunately, the fluorides naturally found in water aren’t enough to prevent problems like tooth decay, which is why the United States has added it to our water supply.
The cancer question
When it comes to determining the safety of fluoride, let’s first address the elephant in the room — the link between fluoride and cancer. People who are concerned about fluoride believe that it can raise your risks of osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
The American Cancer Society debunks this belief, reporting that more than 50 studies have shown no strong link to this type of cancer.
The importance of fluoride
As dental experts, we believe that our patients have everything to gain from including fluoride in good dental care, among both children and adults. The first point to consider is that any fluoride rinses or toothpastes are delivering the fluoride straight to your teeth, unlike the systemic approach of fluoridated water.
Because we’re only applying fluoride topically, your teeth are the sole beneficiaries of the strengthening agent, eliminating any wider spread health concerns.
Moving back to the question of fluoridated water, with the cancer question resolved, let’s turn to the benefits. The CDC reports that in the 75 years the United States has been adding fluoride to drinking water, we’ve seen a 25% reduction in cavities in both children and adults.
The bottom line is that we feel that not only is fluoride safe, it can help you maintain healthy, strong teeth by warding off tooth decay.
If you have more questions about adding fluoride to your dental regimen, contact our office in Mountain View, California.