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Understanding Fluoride In Dental Care: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Regular dental care is essential for achieving good oral health — including fluoride. However, like anything, too much of something can be detrimental. At No Gaps Dental, we’re here to help you understand how to safely incorporate fluoride into your dental routine at all ages, what fluoride does do for your teeth and its potential side effects in dental care. Let’s take a closer look at fluoride and its significance in maintaining a bright, shiny smile.

What does fluoride do?

Fluoride is not a medication. Instead, it’s a natural mineral found in various sources, including tap water, soil and certain foods. It’s a key player in dental care as it helps prevent tooth decay and strengthens tooth enamel. This mineral has been used for decades in dental products and treatments to protect teeth from decay, including fluoride toothpaste, gels and mouthwash.

What does fluoride do in dental care?

There are several uses of fluoride when treating teeth:

  • Fluoride toothpaste — What does fluoride do to your teeth? Well, one of the most common uses of fluoride is toothpaste. Most toothpaste brands contain fluoride to help remineralise tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily is an effective way to incorporate fluoride into your oral care routine.
  • Fluoride mouthwash — Mouthwash containing fluoride will help strengthen your teeth and prevent tooth decay. What fluoride does do is provide an extra layer of protection when used combined with regular brushing and flossing. Not to mention, it also helps keep bad breath at bay.
  • Fluoride varnish — Dentists may apply fluoride varnish during dental check-ups, particularly for children and individuals at higher risk of cavities or patients undergoing orthodontic treatment. This varnish is painted onto the teeth and acts as a protective shield against decay.

The benefits of fluoride in dental care — what does fluoride do to your teeth?

Fluoride is a key element of dental care, providing the following benefits to your teeth:

  • Prevents tooth decay — Fluoride’s primary benefit is its ability to prevent tooth decay in children and adults. What does fluoride do? It strengthens tooth enamel and makes it more resistant to the acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. This acid is a major contributor to cavities forming.
  • Reverses early cavities — Fluoride can help reverse the early stages of tooth decay, known as dental demineralisation. When applied topically, fluoride encourages remineralisation, helping repair damaged enamel and prevent the unwanted pain and discomfort caused by tooth decay.
  • Safe and effective — When used as directed, fluoride is a safe and effective tool to help prevent cavities or holes from forming on the surface of your teeth. At No Gaps Dental, our dentists recommend fluoride as part of a comprehensive oral care routine to help reduce the money you would spend on more significant dental treatments down the road.
  • Cost-effective — Incorporating fluoride into your dental care routine will help prevent cavities and the need for extensive dental treatments in the long run, saving you both time and money.

Can you use too much fluoride?

While fluoride is generally safe when used as directed, excessive exposure can lead to dental fluorosis — a cosmetic dental issue that affects tooth enamel’s appearance, typically as white streaks or tooth spots. This condition is common when young children use too much fluoride while their permanent teeth develop. It cannot appear after teeth are fully formed and does not affect tooth function.

For this reason, our dentists strongly urge parents to monitor their child’s fluoride intake and use fluoride-containing products appropriately. This means following the instructions of toothpaste guidelines for children.

How to balance children’s fluoride intake

Maintaining the right fluoride balance is critical to reap its benefits while avoiding potential side effects. Here are some tips to ensure you consume the right balance:

  • Use fluoridated toothpaste sparingly for young children — Children under six should use low-fluoride toothpaste designed for children and a children’s toothbrush with soft bristles. A rice-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste is suitable for brushing. This minimises the risk of dental fluorosis while still providing cavity protection.
  • Supervise young children — Monitor your child until they know how to brush correctly. Ensure they don’t swallow the toothpaste when brushing. To avoid excess fluoride, teach them to spit out the toothpaste and rinse their mouth with water after brushing.
  • Consult our dentist — Regular dental check-ups are essential for assessing oral health and fluoride needs. Our kids’ dentists at No Gaps Dental can recommend specific fluoride treatments or supplements if necessary. Our kids’ dentists have worked with many children and know how to earn their trust to help your child feel relaxed and comfortable for their next dental visit.

Book your next dental check-up at No Gaps Dental and stay on top of your oral health

If you’ve ever wondered, “What does fluoride do for your teeth?” fluoride helps protect teeth from the risk of tooth decay to help maintain a sparkling, healthy smile. When used appropriately and under the guidance of dental professionals, fluoride is a safe and effective method to protect your teeth. Understanding how to properly incorporate it into your dental routine, its benefits and potential side effects when not used correctly will empower you to make informed decisions about your oral health.

At No Gaps Dental, our dental professionals are committed to providing you with the best advice and dental care to help you achieve a healthy smile. Book your next dental appointment at No Gaps Dental to keep on track with preventative dentistry and help avoid long-term oral health issues. If you have any questions, contact our team, who will gladly assist you.

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