Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally found in water, soil, and plants. It is also produced synthetically and added to public water supplies and dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. Fluoridation is credited with greatly reducing the incidence of tooth decay in the general population.
Even before a child’s first tooth erupts, fluoride taken in helps strengthen the enamel of the developing teeth. After teeth break through the gums, fluoride in toothpaste and mouthwash can provide a topical benefit by aiding in the remineralization or rebuilding of weakened tooth enamel. This remineralization makes our teeth more resistant to the acid that can cause tooth decay.
On the flip side, the idiom, “too much of a good thing…” can apply. The excessive use of fluoride can cause side effects. Dental fluorosis can occur with exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during childhood when children accidentally swallow toothpaste during brushing. Though it does not affect the health of the teeth, white streaks and or specks discolor the teeth.
Check to see that the dental products you are using contain fluoride and be sure to see your dentist twice a year for a thorough exam.