Occasionally you meet someone with uneven, flaky, and patchy sections of white and off-white on their teeth. Most people will be quick to judge such a person assuming their teeth are that way due to poor dental hygiene habits. This assumption is wrong, as the discoloration of this nature is greater than personal hygiene. Teeth discoloration to deep yellowing, patches of white and off-white and in some instances total browning resulting from excess fluoride. Although regular habits of flossing or brushing teeth do minimize the incidence of disease-causing bacteria in the mouth, the same habits do little to stop fluoride stains.
Importance of Fluoride for Healthy Teeth
Fluoride is a natural trace mineral found in food, fruits, and water. The food and water we eat and drink have traces of phosphates, calcium, and fluoride. These minerals go through the blood stream and small deposits end up on tooth enamel. Tooth enamel corroded by the action of acid on the teeth undergoes a natural rebuilding process using these trace minerals. When food is deficient in these minerals the natural progression of tooth decay is faster. Specifically, the fluoride keeps the teeth resistant to acid corrosion and effectively prevents tooth decay.
In instances where a patient may not get enough minerals through their food and water, the teeth become weak, because they do not rejuvenate, as they should. In such instances, a dentist will introduce fluoride treatments to help save and restore tooth health. Fluoride treatment is a common practice amongst dentist where they introduce a high concentration of fluoride to treat a patient who has high risk of tooth decay. Conditions such as ‘dry mouth’ aggravate bacteria activity in the mouth. A patient with such a condition will benefit from an extra high dose of fluoride to help repair the corroded teeth.
Is Fluoride a Harmful Chemical?
Fluoride, as seen in the description above is actually a beneficial mineral in limited doses. In adults, particularly, the use of a fluoride toothpaste and water with some fluoride is sufficient to protect the teeth. The minimal amount of fluoride helps the body to repair the teeth naturally. However, larger amounts of fluoride particularly in water and in the soils where domestic foods grow cause fluorination and discoloration of teeth.
Amongst many dentists today, the use of fluoride treatment is the norm to help reverse decay and potential tooth loss. This is especially common in patients who have other health conditions that may affect their hormonal balance or their overall immune system. In dentistry, fluoride treatment is an acceptable medical procedure and a patient may self-medicate at home after guidance from a dentist. Once research established fluoride is useful for teeth, most American water systems introduced fluoride content. Coupled with the fluoride in foods, more Americans now have mild forms of fluorosis on their teeth.
Fluoride in Children and Tooth Health
Fluoride is an important chemical in adults as it is in children to help develop and repair the teeth. It is particularly critical for children between the ages of six, when the teeth start to sprout, and teenage to have an adequate amount of fluoride. This way, the teeth form well and the gums hold the teeth snugly together.