Fluoride for Your Teeth

Two-thirds of U.S. residents have tap water containing fluoride, which is added to prevent cavities. Despite its proven ability to protect teeth from decay, fluoride has become controversial in recent years as certain sources have overblown its risks. Here is a look at the issues surrounding fluoride and how this substance improves dental health.

Overview of Fluoride Benefits and Risks

Hundreds of studies have confirmed that fluoridated water stops bacteria from causing tooth decay. While the bacteria that cause cavities are actually decreasing in number, water fluoridation remains important, especially considering high intake of processed foods that lead to decay. Although excessive consumption of fluoridated water by children can cause fluorosis, which is characterized by tooth staining, fluoride has not been proven to cause other health problems.

Cavity Prevention by Fluoride

The tiny levels of fluoride in drinking water, approximately one part per million, are enough to harden teeth and prevent bacterial decay. Although opponents have claimed that fluoridation does not protect against decay, researchers have repeatedly shown that it does. For example, one study comparing towns in Wisconsin with fluoridated water against towns with non-fluoridated water found that those with fluoridated water had about one-third fewer cavities.

Beyond risks of staining associated with fluorosis, fluoride is essentially a harmless and beneficial substance that supports dental health in people around the world. Much like a daily supplement, fluoride can help guard against problems associated with habits that are less than perfect. For patients from areas without fluoridated water or children prone to decay, our dentist in Torrance can supply additional fluoride in office-based or at-home treatments.

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