Posted on: 29 October, 2021
Fluoride in toothpaste and local water supplies plays a critical role in lowering rates of tooth decay in populations across the globe. In Australia, oral health has improved significantly since water fluoridation began in the 1950’s, but the practice still has its sceptics.
2 minute read
In line with Australia’s national health position endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), dentists recommend the appropriate use of fluoride for people of all ages, but you don't have to take our word for it! Multiple reviews of the evidence have found that fluoride continues to be a safe and cost-effective way to help prevent dental problems and improve oral health.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound in rocks and soil that is present in many foods and water supplies. Fluoride is also artificially added to municipal water supplies and maintained at safe levels for regular consumption.
Community water fluoridation has been practised in Australia since 1968. Today, around 89% of the population has access to fluoridated drinking water. It’s an initiative that’s halved the instance of tooth decay in kids and adults(1).
Fluoride is also added to oral care products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes. Professional fluoride treatments may also used by dentists during your regular check-up and clean.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria from the food and drink we consume releases acids that mix with saliva and cause the tooth’s outer surface (enamel) to erode. Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel by making it more resistant to acid. It does this as it passes through the enamel allowing for further benefits.
Inside tooth enamel, fluoride combines with calcium and phosphate to create a defence structure called fluorapatite. This process both reduces the break down (demineralisation) of enamel and repairs (remineralisation) enamel that has been previously damaged.
When teeth are regularly exposed to fluoride toothpaste and tap water, you are at lower risk of developing tooth decay and cavities and less likely to need corrective treatment such as fillings or a root canal.
There have been unsubstantiated claims that fluoride causes a range of health problems, from allergies and arthritis to cancer.
Reputable scientific studies have found no link between water fluoridation and rates of health problems in communities, including the most recent review of evidence by the NHMRC.
Fluoride is considered a safe and effective preventive dental measure for all ages. Fluoridated water is safe for young children and for use with baby formula. Fluoride is also used at safe levels in kids' dentistry.
The only known side effect of children consuming too much fluoride is a superficial or cosmetic condition known as fluorosis. This is where white stains appear on kids teeth. However, it has no negative impact on oral health or general health.
To prevent fluorosis, low-fluoride children's toothpaste should be used until around the age of 6 and children should be taught not to swallow toothpaste.
No, adding fluoride to water supplies at recommended levels does not affect the taste, smell or appearance of tap water.
Want to know more about effective ways to protect your family's teeth, or are you due for a check-up and clean? Call Mount Lawley Dental on (08) 9227 8777 to book an appointment with out dentists in North Perth today. You can also book online.