Posted on 21 February 2023

It is a well-known fact that fluoride offers many benefits when applied to teeth. This is one of the reasons why it is often found as an active ingredient within many toothpastes. 

However, there is also an ongoing debate whether fluoride toothpaste is safe and necessary for adults and children.  

This is why we should briefly examine both sides of the equation. We will begin by taking a look at why fluoride is beneficial - as well as what positive impacts it has on tooth enamel. 

What is Fluoride and Why is it Essential for Oral Health?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element and its dental benefits have been known for well over 100 years. This is one of the reasons why drinking water is infused with fluoride, allowing children and adults alike to receive healthy amounts in order to reduce risk of tooth decay.

In terms of oral health, fluoride causes the enamel to produce minerals that are resistant to decay caused by acids inside the mouth. It is therefore considered a preventative measure, potentially reversing any damage at an early stage. There is even some evidence which suggests that fluoride may reverse tooth decay once it has already begun to take hold. 

For Children and Adults

Fluoride is considered an essential component of oral health for children. One unique characteristic of this element is that it can be easily absorbed by the body. Thus, it will help to strengthen baby teeth even before they erupt through the gums. As the teeth fully emerge, fluoride will also reinforce the enamel, providing an additional level of protection. 

However, it should also be mentioned that adults can likewise benefit from the fluoride. This is particularly relevant when discussing topical fluoride. Brushing with a toothpaste containing low levels of topical fluoride will help to prevent enamel loss and therefore, it can reduce the chances of tooth decay over time. 

Note that some mouthwashes and oral supplements are known to contain relatively high amounts of fluoride. These can helpful for people who suffer from weakened enamel.

Is Brushing with Fluoride Recommended?

We now come to the crux of this article. Is it wise to use a fluoride toothpaste on a regular basis? It is first prudent to once again mention that infants and toddlers require fluoride in order to guarantee that the enamel of their teeth is protected at an early stage. 

Note that children younger than two years should only be given an amount of toothpaste that is roughly equivalent to the size of a grain of rice. This will help to avoid any potential side effects of an accidental ingestion. 

Another potential risk associated with using too much fluoride is a condition known as dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis causes tooth enamel to become discoloured, often resulting in white or brown spots. Therefore, children between three and six years of age should brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

What about adults? Keep in mind that the very same symptoms outlined above can occur at any age. This all depends on the amount of fluoride that the teeth are exposed to. 

There are many times when adults may receive sufficient quantities of fluoride in their drinking water. Common foods and drinks also contain fluoride. In other words, the body may already be receiving sufficient quantities. If this is the case, the use of a fluoride toothpaste might be redundant. 

A handful of individuals could also suffer from fluoride allergies. Symptoms can include gum lesions and generalised oral swelling. If this is suspected to be the case, it is prudent to consult with a dentist in order to obtain a professional diagnosis. There are numerous fluoride-free toothpastes that can protect the teeth and to help prevent cavities. 

Fluoride: An Element Vital to Oral Health

Although a great deal of emphasis is placed upon infants and toddlers receiving fluoride, we need to remember that this element is just as essential for oral health in adults. Thankfully, western society has recognised the benefits and it is normally possible to obtain ample amounts without the need to take any additional supplements.

Although there can be instances when dental fluorosis may occur, these can be averted; speak with your dentist. As the enamel of our teeth will not replenish itself over time, the importance of safeguarding this protective barrier is clear. Do not hesitate to consult with a specialist for more details for targeted advice. 


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