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  • Writer's pictureTerrence James

What is Fluoride and is it Safe?

Updated: Nov 20, 2020

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found not only in your teeth, but also in the environment in rocks, plants, and even the air! Fluoride is a natural part of your teeth and it is added to toothpaste to strengthen weakened areas of enamel, to prevent tooth decay (cavities), and aid in remineralization of teeth.

Should I Apply Fluoride at the Dentist?

Fluoride is a very important part of preventative care for developing enamel. Until about 16 years of age, the enamel structure is still developing, and regular fluoride treatment helps mineralize and harden the developing enamel rods that ultimately form adult teeth.

Children are also at higher risk for cavities due to primary (baby) teeth being softer, diets higher in sugar, and less manual dexterity when it comes to brushing techniques. For these reasons, we recommend fluoride for all kids ages 16 years and under.

Our office uses a high-quality fluoride varnish, which is proven to be the safest and most effective form of fluoride treatment. For those over the age of 16, fluoride is prescribed as needed based on individual needs, depending on risk factors such as diet, genetics, brushing habits, and other contributing factors.

What is Fluoride and is it Safe?

Is it the same fluoride that can sometimes be found in our water and food?

Yes; Very low levels of fluoride (0.01-0.1ppm) can be naturally found in foods such as spinach, potatoes, and raisins. Winnipeg tap water is artificially fluoridated (0.7ppm), as an effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay in the community. Fluouride only becomes unsafe to ingest at a concentrated level (1,000-1,550ppm).

Is Fluoride Toothpaste Safe?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is added to toothpastes to strengthen weakened areas of enamel to prevent tooth decay (cavities). Fluoride toothpaste is safe when used as intended so fluoride toothpaste is safe to use once a child is able to effectively spit out their toothpaste on their own without swallowing.

What about Fluoride-free Toothpastes?

Fluoride-free toothpastes are primarily beneficial to young children under 3 years of age who are unable to brush without swallowing. In recent years, some individuals have chosen alternatives to fluoride for various personal reasons. There are no benefits to these alternatives in regards to the prevention of tooth decay, with the exception of high-quality xylitol-based formulas which we can recommend.

Are there fluoride mouthwashes and do you recommend them?

Fluoride and/or xylitol mouthwashes can be beneficial for individuals who are at higher risk for tooth decay. We recommend these based on the individual's needs.

Can some people be allergic to fluoride?

Fluoride allergies are possible but very rare. In these situations, we can provide alternative product recommendations for both your treatment and for your home care.

More Questions?

If you have any specific questions or concerns about fluoride, our hygienists would be happy to discuss this further with you. There are also effective alternatives to fluoride we can recommend based on your needs.

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