Fluoride: Myths and Facts

Fluoride Myths and Facts

Scott General Dentistry, Oral Health

Preventing and treating cavities are two of the most common and important pediatric dental services offered. Cavities can permanently damage teeth and cause a lifetime of poor dental health.

Despite advances in prevention and treatment, tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, remains common. In fact, 18 percent of children and 31 percent of adults ages 20 to 44 years have untreated dental caries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Fluoridation of the community drinking water provides significant protection from tooth decay, but a number of myths surround this treatment. Unfortunately, these myths can prevent someone from getting the fluoride he or she needs to avoid tooth decay.

To help all our patients enjoy the best dental health possible throughout their entire lives, we’re presenting some of the most common myths and many facts about fluoride.

Myths and Facts about Fluoride

Myth: They don’t know how fluoride works.

Fact: Scientists have been studying how fluoride works to prevent cavities since the early 1900s, when a dentist noticed that children who drank water with high levels of fluoride had very few cavities.

After being absorbed into the teeth, fluoride combines with calcium and phosphate to create fluorapatite, which makes tooth enamel strong enough to resist cavities.

Myth: Fluoridated water causes cancer.

Fact: There is no evidence that fluoridated water causes cancer. The American Cancer Society presents a number of scientific studies that show that drinking water poses no detectable cancer risk to humans.

Myth: Fluoride is an unnatural addition to drinking water.

Fact: Fluoride is naturally present in all water.

Fluoride comes from fluorine, which is the 13th most abundant element on our planet and is found naturally in our air and water. While there is fluoride in all water, most water does not contain enough fluoride to protect teeth from cavities. Community fluoridation involves adding enough fluoride to the water to bring the concentration of this element to therapeutic levels of 0.7 parts fluoride per million parts of water.

Myth: Everyone gets enough fluoride.

Fact: Adding fluoride to community drinking water helps most people get the fluoride they need, but some benefit from fluoride supplements.

Children who are between 6 months and 16 years of age, whose primary drinking water has a low fluoride concentration and who are at high risk for tooth decay might benefit from taking fluoride supplements.

Myth: Large amounts of fluoride can damage your teeth.

Fact: Consuming excessively large amounts of fluoride can cause fluorosis, which is a cosmetic condition. As long as you don’t eat a tube of toothpaste, you won’t consume enough fluoride to cause fluorosis.

Fluorosis is a cosmetic condition that can cause very faint white markings or stained pitting on the teeth.

Myth: Fluoride is an unsafe way to prevent tooth decay.

Fact: Fluoridation of water is a safe, effective way to reduce the risk of dental caries.

Communities have been fluoridating water successfully for more than 50 years. Grand Rapids, MI, was the first city to fluoridate its municipal water system in 1945. Researchers studied the results for 15 years, and found a dramatic 60 to 65 percent reduction in dental caries.

Contact Us to Learn More about Fluoride

For more information about fluoride myths and facts, contact us today. Our friendly staff offers quality dental care for the whole family in a modern and relaxing office. Our dental office is located in Morgan Hill, CA, but also serves patients living in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Martin and Santa Clara County. Call 408-779-9335 to schedule an appointment.