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why do we need fluoride in toothpaste

Francine Van Meter, junior clinic coordinator in the dental
hygiene department of Cabrillo College in Aptos, Calif. , provided the following material: "Acids from plaque cause the loss of minerals from the tooth (a process called demineralization), resulting in tooth decay. The formation of small cavities, or carious lesions, can be reversed by remineralization--that is, the deposition of minerals into previously damaged areas of tooth. Topical fluoride, when applied frequently in low concentrations, increases both the rate of growth and the size of enamel crystals. The accelerated growth of enamel crystals within the demineralized lesion initiates reminerization of the tooth. Also, the larger crystals are less prone to future attack from the acids. "Systemic fluoride--ingested fluoride that is absorbed mainly through the stomach and intestine into the bloodstream--helps to strengthen teeth while they are growing. The fluoride is carried to developing tooth buds, where the interaction with the developing crystals initiates the replacement of hydroxyapatite (the tooth enamel's normal crystalline composition) with fluorapatite (a related crystal which incorporates fluoride). Fluorapatite is more resistant to decay than is hydroxyapatite. " Mary Hayes of the American Dental Association presents some further information: "Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that prevents tooth decay when ingested systemically or applied to teeth topically.

The fluoride ion comes from the element fluorine. Fluorine, the 13th most abundant element in the earth's crust, is never encountered in its free state in nature. It exists only in combination with other elements as a fluoride compound. It is found in this form as a constituent of minerals in rocks and soil everywhere. Water passes over rock formations containing fluoride and dissolves these compounds, creating fluoride ions. The result is that small amounts of soluble fluoride ions are present in all water sources, including the oceans. "Fluoride is present to some extent in all foods and beverages, but the concentrations vary widely. All water contains some fluoride naturally. Water fluoridation is the process of adjusting the fluoride content of water to the recommended level for optimal dental health. In the U. S. , the optimum concentration for fluoride in the water has been established in the range of 0. 7 to 1. 2 parts per million (ppm). The specific optimum for a locality is dependent on the average annual temperature for the region. "Researchers believe there are several mechanisms by which fluoride achieves its anticaries (cavity-preventing) effect. It reduces the solubility of enamel in acid by converting hydroxyapatite into less soluble fluorapatite; it may exert an influence directly on dental plaque, reducing the ability of plaque organisms to produce acid; and it promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel in areas that have been decalcified by acids. "Most likely, fluoride works by a combination of these effects.

But the remineralization effect of fluoride is of prime importance, because it results in a reversal of the early caries process and it gives rise to an enamel surface that is more resistant to decay. Should you be using a fluoride-free toothpaste? The answer has a lot to do with your age. Other factors also play a role, such as whether you are already getting enough fluoride. What Is Fluoride? Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water sources. Sometimes, additional fluoride may be added to a community's water because it has been shown to help prevent cavities. Fluoride makes teeth stronger and more resistant to cavity-forming acids, working to prevent decay long before you would even notice it. Brief History of Fluoride According to the, fluoride research was initiated in part by Dr. Frederick McKay back in 1901. He joined forces with Dr. Green Vardiman Black to conduct research concerning the brown stains on teeth. They both presented information to the Colorado State Dental Association in 1909. Chemist H. V. Churchill started his own research several years later, studying the water supply in a city where teeth staining was an issue.

He discovered that high levels of fluoride were the main culprit for the stains. By the 1940s, it was known that fluoride in regulated amounts would help prevent cavities. It's now standard practice for water to be infused with fluoride to ensure that people get an adequate amount. Some foods, beverages, toothpastes, supplements and even some mouthwashes now contain it as well. Should You Use a Fluoride-Free Toothpaste? If you have a child under the age of two, the child should definitely be using a fluoride-free toothpaste, such as. According to the, a child can swallow too much fluoride, especially at the ages of two and under, when it's tough to teach them to spit out toothpaste. When too much fluoride is taken in, it can lead to dental fluorosis, as detailed by the. This particular condition causes discoloration or pitting on the teeth. It may appear as brown spots, scattered white specks or white spots. The teeth may even feel rough. Opt for a toothpaste without fluoride if you're allergic to fluoride. You may also want to choose a different toothpaste if you have certain medical conditions, but only a physician can tell whether switching toothpastes may benefit you. Additionally, you may already obtain enough fluoride through food, beverages and other sources, so make sure you speak to your dentist or physician about your current fluoride intake.

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