August 8, 2018
Fluoride – It Works
A few years ago I spoke at a parents group about oral healthcare for kids. Not long after my lecture, and even briefer demonstration of how to teach kids to properly brush and floss, I saw a couple of hands go up. I called on a hand and the person associated with it asked me if I thought it was good to put fluoride in our water. Short answer – “Yes, I do.”
Here’s how it works: Fluoride is a negatively charged naturally occurring element that has been found to bind with the positively charged calcium matrix in enamel and strengthen it. Fluoride restores demineralized tooth structure and is a cost effective way to decrease decay. Also, fluoride inhibits the growth of bacterial activity in dental plaque.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes the fluoridation of drinking water as one of the ten great achievements of the twentieth century. (Nathe, Christine Nielsen. Dental Public Health and Research, 3rd Ed., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2011, p.26) In 2003, a conference of health leaders in Geneva, Switzerland at the World Health Organization recommended the use of fluoride for the prevention of oral disease.
I have seen the evidence of fluoride benefiting patients in my years of clinical practice. Many older adults experience a decrease in salivary flow which may be worsened by consumption of some medications. Increased tooth decay can be prevented with the use of over-the-counter fluoride rinses, thorough brushing, and flossing. There are some who have a sensitivity to fluoride who should not use it in prescription strength. This could be indicated by a redness of the gums. Personally, I use a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste every night before bedtime. My tendency to get decay has stopped and my sensitivity in areas where I have recession has reduced. Maybe it would be useful for you as well.
Any questions you have about this or other dental topics are welcome.
Pam Funk, BS, RDH