Fluoride

Frequently Asked Questions (Click on Questions to See Answers)

A - Fluoride is an atom known as an anion F- or reduced form of fluorine because the molecule contains more electrons than protons resulting in a net negative charge. Fluorides may be organic carbon-containing chemical compounds or may originate from non-biological minerals. Fluoride is also a halide because it is a binary compound made up of two different elements.

The binding compounds may be toxic, like sarin, or vital for life, such as calcium fluoride. Those compounds that form covalent bonds with fluorine where electrons are shared in attraction-to-repulsion stability, are called fluorides. Fluoride is versatile at bonding with varied elements to form compounds.

Fluoride is found naturally in food and water, but water from an underground origin that contains fluoride will have a higher concentration than that found in the sea.

A - Besides dental products, fluoride is used in diverse industries for different purposes. In dentistry, fluoride is used to prevent cavities that can become infected and cause decay and gum disease. Primarily, fluoride is used in three main categories, for fluoride therapy, for water fluoridation and for oral hygiene.

Fluoride is applied directly to the teeth and gums in fluoride therapy topical treatments, such as in toothpastes, gels, foams, or mouth washes, to combat dental caries or tooth decay. The fluoride can also be applied systematically through dietary supplements like water, salt, tablets or drops which are swallowed.

Keeping up with good oral hygiene involves brushing teeth with fluoride-containing toothpaste according to recommended brushing techniques, and rinsing with fluoride-containing mouth washes. Nutrients in foods, like calcium, can  also build stronger teeth that reduces cavities.

A - Oral hygiene treatments for cleaning, scaling and polishing teeth involve the use of fluoride. Dental braces, retainers, and dentures can be cleaned in fluid, such as fluoride-containing mouth wash solutions.

In Orthodontics, fluoridated prophylactic pastes are used with varying fluoride concentrations to bond and reinforce brackets that contribute to correcting teeth alignment.

Certain dental bonding materials used in dental crowns, veneers and white fillings absorb fluoride for slow release to act on tooth enamel to reduce development of cavities. These fluoride-releasing substances are used in both general and  cosmetic dentistry.

A - Fluoride may be added to water through controlled measures in the public water supply to reduce likelihood of tooth decay and cavities. Depending on the area or region, natural occurring fluoride may be at cavity-prevention level, but if not, then fluoride is added to safely elevate the level of fluoride that will be effective in protecting teeth and gums from infection and disease. The saliva absorbs the fluoride which also acts on the tooth enamel making the teeth more resistant to acids that reduce the mineralisation rate at which cavities form.

A - The amount of fluoride that individuals consume depends on the fluoride levels of water used for drinking, fluoride-containing foods consumed, the types of fluoride-containing products used, and also the dental treatments including slow-releasing fluoride bonding agents. Dentists usually inform patients of the products used during treatments.

Fluoride levels in the water table for public drinking water are usually monitored by councils and municipalities in areas. These levels are maintained for safety to overall human health. The fluoride present in foods may be naturally occurring or due to covalent bonds formed with other elements used in food.

Dental products containing fluoride can be bought at local shops, pharmacies, be provided by dentists, or purchased online. The availability of these products is influenced by consumer demand, industry standards, and new innovations in dentistry.

A - Fluoride acts on the tooth enamel making the teeth more resistant to acids that reduce the mineralisation rate at which cavities form. The action is a preventative measure to protect teeth and gums from infection, decay and disease that affects not only oral health, but overall physical health as well.

A - Fluoride levels in the water table for the public water supply is monitored and maintained at standards safe for consumption. Dental products that contain fluoride are also designed not to be harmful to health, and also have to pass health standards before being made available to the general public.

Usually all products also contain labels indicating the levels of chemicals present. Dentists are also trained in using safe amounts of dental materials that contain fluoride in treatments. Research is conducted to identify any risks in fluoride use to protect consumers and the general public from toxicity.

A - Most brands of children's toothpaste contains fluoride to give them resistance to  cavities from an early age. Teaching children not to swallow toothpaste and to spit it out is important because swallowing toothpaste regularly can elevate fluoride levels beyond safety. Making sure that only a small amount is placed on the brush is also a preventative measure. Children usually start taking fluoride supplements at approximately age six just by drinking fluoride-containing water for public use.

Children first visit the dentist at around age three. Dentists are qualified also to treat children and understand the importance of being aware of fluoride use. Certain dentists focus on a branch of dentistry called Pediatric dentistry that only treats the oral health needs of children. If you have concerns about your child's oral health or fluoride intake, contact our resident dentist who will be happy to talk with you.

A - The main risks associated with fluoride depends on how the fluoride reacts with other chemicals, so it is vital to give your dentist information about your medical history and any medications that can interact with fluoride and cause harm.

Excessive intake of fluoride, such as by continually swallowing mouth washes and toothpaste, can raise fluoride levels in the body to the point of toxicity. A number of symptoms can occur that affect general physical health, so it is best to discuss with your doctor if you have concerns about your health.

Dental fluorosis is a condition affecting children aged one to four during development of their teeth if fluoride levels consumed are too high. The signs of dental fluorosis can range from white specs to brown stains with fractures to the teeth. If you suspect your child may have dental fluorosis, contact our resident dentist for further information and treatment options.

A - Your local physician can check your blood levels to determine how much fluoride is present in your system. Once results are returned from the laboratory, your doctor can explain the levels to you and what it means for your overall health and wellbeing.

A - Excessive intake in children can cause dental fluorosis that degenerates tooth condition and structure. If dental fluorosis is left untreated, gum disease may develop that can also affect physical health.

There are instances where fluoride is used in tubes to prevent loss of glucose which inhibits glycolysis that may contribute to diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer's.

A - The cost of dental treatments which contain fluoride depends on the market cost of dental products, such as toothpastes and mouth washes available on the Internet. The government automatically takes care of the fluoride levels of public drinking water through public funds.

The charge to fluoride-containing materials used in dental treatments usually depends on the dental practice, the diagnosis, the type of dental treatment, the dental pricing structures and payment plans available.

A - Fluoride therapies are designed to contain fluoride to prevent cavity formation and to combat oral diseases. Oral hygiene treatments aimed at the same purpose may or may not contain fluoride, such as toothpastes and mouthwashes. Certain bonding materials used by dentists do not contain fluoride. If you are unsure about dental products, speak with our resident dentist who will inform you of treatment options, alternatives and how best to care for your oral health.