Fluoride has been the mainstream mineral for decades as people care for their teeth, but it isn’t the only option for tooth care. For many dentists, working with patients and parents of those patients often brings about concerns for the use of fluoride and its dangerous side effects. This natural mineral has been protecting against tooth decay for years; because of the backed-up research behind this mineral, it’s been effective as a form of cavity prevention. However, overexposure to this mineral can bring about some long-term consequences to your teeth, depending on your oral health, environment, and other various factors.
Why People Are Going Fluoride-Free
For some, going fluoride-free is a healthy choice. As local communities continue to add fluoride into their water regulation systems to encourage better oral health, it can also damage your teeth if you ingest too much fluoride throughout your life. Studies such as those from the Monographs in Oral Science cite that fluoride toxicity or dental fluorosis has become an issue to the excess ingestion of fluoride from toothpaste, mouthwash, and public drinking water. Dental fluorosis often occurs as white spot lesions, demineralizing the tooth’s enamel and causing micro-abrasions throughout the tooth surface.
In normal use, fluoride works to remineralize the enamel to strengthen the bonds connecting the calcium deposits, creating a more defensive shield against bacteria and plaque development. However, too much of one thing can also be devastating, and the case is such with fluoride. For parents concerned about their child’s fluoride intake, dental fluorosis is a serious factor to consider when caring for their child’s oral health. While fluoride is the industry standard, some dentists have begun cooperating with parents to provide alternative solutions to prevent the onset of dental fluorosis.
Alternatives For Fluoride Toothpaste
For patients looking to move away from fluoride, there are some excellent options out there that can help strengthen and clean their teeth. While fluoride is considered to be the best choice out there for those conscientious about their teeth, many researchers have attempted to work with creating new choices for dentists and the public to use, such as chlorhexidine and epigallocatechin gallate as possibilities. For now, though, some healthy alternatives towards caring for your teeth can include:
- Xylitol: A sugar alcohol, xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar substitute that remineralizes the enamel just as effectively as fluoride. It’s most commonly found in children’s toothpaste brands and is considered by many dentists to be a safe product.
- Calcium: Increasing your calcium intake with dairy products or dietary supplements can help strengthen all the bones in your body, including your teeth. Lactose products increase the acidity in your mouth and help to remove bacteria when consumed.
- Sensitive Toothpaste: Many brands also limit much of the dentin sensitivity people often experience with enamel erosion by providing toothpaste with potassium nitrate to protect the dentin from further exposure.
- Water: Drinking more water is an essential component to preventing dental fluorosis. Water helps increase saliva production, as saliva is a key element in ridding the mouth of plaque-causing bacteria.
Fluoride is an important part of your oral health, but like all things moderation is necessary. If you want to know if you’re getting the right amount of fluoride, reach out to your dentist for an appointment today!