Fluoride is important for everyone, both children and adults. It is estimated that water fluoridation reduces tooth decay by 20-40%. Fluoride, a mineral naturally occurring in water, plays an essential protective role.
- When ingested it is incorporated into the structure of the developing teeth, and it prevents the acid produced by the bacteria in plaque from dissolving tooth enamel
- It also helps to repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible.
Unfortunately people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is like any nutrient; it is safe and effective when used appropriately. In areas where fluoridated water is not available dietary fluoride supplements can be taken in the form of tablets. In Singapore the water is optimally fluoridated.
Topical fluorides including toothpastes, mouth rinses and professionally applied fluoride by your dentist will strengthen teeth already present in the mouth making them more decay resistant. Fluoride applied by your dentist is stronger and hence will last longer. The recommended frequency of applications is every six months. If you are particularly susceptible to decay, the frequency should be increased.
It is important to note that effective prevention of dental decay requires a proper mix of both forms of fluoride (topical and ingested). Too much ingested fluoride during tooth development in young children can cause white spots or staining of the tooth enamel due to fluorosis. Do not let your children eat toothpaste!
Be aware that the majority of bottled waters on the market do not contain optimal levels of fluoride. Individuals who drink bottled water as their primary source of water could be missing the decay preventative effects of fluoridated water. Similarly, some types of home water treatment systems can reduce the fluoride content in the water supplied. If concerned you should seek advice from our dentist about your own specific fluoride needs.