Fluoridated drinking water is a controversial subject to many people. While tooth loss and need for fillings due to tooth decay have declined in all western nations since the 1950s, this is true regardless of the fluoridation policies in place. Many people believe it is simply better dental hygiene practices in general and the access to modern dentistry that have caused this decline in tooth decay. In the US we are used to fluoride in the drinking water in many places. In some countries, such as Switzerland, India, and Japan (and many others) the fluoridation method that has been used has been to add it to table salt. It is even the law Columbia, Costa Rica,  and Jamaica that salt have added fluoride.

Why Fluoride?

The reason for this is the same as that given for water fluoridation in other places, to protect against tooth decay. People who live in regions where salt is routinely fluoridated can sometimes find salt that has no added fluoride if they use an all natural sea salt instead of a specially made table salt. Too much fluoride in the diet can cause fluorosis, usually a mild condition that results in some discoloration of the teeth. If you are concerned about added fluoride in your salt, feel free to bring these concerns to Dr. Kim Norman of Maryville, TN and make sure to read your labels, fluoridated salt is in every country.

While there is no proof that increasing systemic fluoride (through fluoridated drinking water or in table salt) decreases tooth decay, there is science to back up the use of fluoride toothpaste and fluoride treatments such as you may get at the dentist’s office to keep your teeth in great shape for a lifetime. While fluoride isn’t technically a nutrient that our bodies need, we still get some benefits from using it for dental care.

How Does Fluoride Help?

To understand how, first you have to take a look at how tooth decay happens. Acids created by bacteria that thrive on the sugars in your mouth, and from the foods you eat, are damaging to your tooth enamel. When you brush and floss, you remove the bacteria but your teeth have already sustained damage from the acid. Fortunately, our saliva has compounds that help remineralize the teeth and keep decay from forming. When the saliva is not able to keep up with the demineralization from the acids in your mouth, cavities (caries) form. If not treated, those can lead to many problems, ultimately, loss of the tooth. Fluoride has properties that cause it to bond with the tooth’s enamel to make a harder substance that resists decay better than the natural enamel, however, fluoride will not get reverse decay that has already happened or prevent infilled cavities from growing.

Dr. Kim Norman of Maryville TN, serving the greater Knoxville area, is happy to provide patients with the education and treatments to help prevent future tooth decay. Get your regular dental check-ups in Maryville TN

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