Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral in water that a growing body of evidence suggests its addition to community water supplies aids in promoting decay-resistant teeth. The Australian Dental Association and the National Oral Health Plans endorse fluoride as a champion in the war against tooth decay. The introduction to supplementing fluoride via water supplies in Australia dates back to the mid 1960’s. Alternative ways to increase exposure to fluoride is its inclusion in dental products such as toothpastes and gel applications and rinses used in dental clinics.
However, despite its efficacy in preventing the development of dental cavities, there still are those who adhere to false beliefs around fluoridated water. These fallacies range from fluoridated water linked to medical health issues such as cancer to negatively impacting cognitive function to musculoskeletal pain. Adverse health effects may be a cause of concern when levels of fluoride are found above safe levels in the water supply. There is little chance of that as relevant authority bodies ensure that this supplementation is kept within the fluoridation range for each state as recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) which is typically 0.6-1.1mg per litre.
The concern that these erroneous beliefs exist is made even more disconcerting considering the prevalence of dental diseases such as tooth decay in Australian society. The most recent Oral health and dental care in Australia report suggests that 14.4 percent of Australians aged 35 to 54 have decayed or missing teeth. Once permanent teeth are missing or lost, a patient experiences a decline in quality of life. Dental decay can adversely impact on psychological, cognitive and physical health giving rise to challenges such as difficulties in eating and speaking and destroying self-confidence levels. Patients can either choose to live a poor quality of life or opt for tooth restoration treatments such as single tooth or multiple teeth dental implants in Melbourne, all-on-four and same day teeth implants.
Fluoride’s role in fending off cavities
Fluoridated water works in a number of ways in defence of tooth enamel against the attack of harmful bacteria and acid found in the mouth. Acid is produced from sugars contained in foods and drinks consumed and this acid is responsible for the demineralisation process (stripping away of vital calcium and phosphate from enamel) – the means by which tooth enamel is dissolved or destroyed.
· Repairs the demineralisation process
Fluoride encourages remineralisation of the outer layer of teeth.
· Strengthens mineral structure
Boosting the mineral structure of teeth is especially important for developing teeth and fluoride serves this function well.
It should be noted that fluoride alone can’t stand against the onslaught of cavity-causing bacteria. Patients are still required to maintain a proper dental hygiene practice of brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
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