You only get one set of adult teeth in your lifetime, and so it is important that you look after your teeth as well as you can. Of course, this entails visiting your dentist at least every six months, brushing and flossing twice a day, and avoiding sugar laden foods.
While investigating how to look after your teeth, you might have also heard about fluoride and the role it can play in maintaining a healthy set of pearly whites. Some dentists are now choosing to recommend and prescribe fluoride supplements to their patients, but there is some debate as to whether this is a good idea or not.
Here are the pros and cons of taking fluoride supplements so that you can make an informed decision as to whether they are right for you.
It protects teeth against acid. Your teeth are made from enamel, and enamel is the strongest material found in the human body. This means that your teeth can withstand a lot, but they are still susceptible to damage from acid. When bacteria on your mouth combines with sugars, acid is produced and this erodes the teeth – a process called demineralisation. But fortunately, fluoride is something that can protect teeth against this process.
It remineralises the teeth. Fluoride is a substance that actually works more actively than simply creating a protective layer against acid on the teeth. As well as forming this barrier, it can actually build up new enamel so that your teeth remain strong, and this is called remineralisation. Using fluoride supplements is one way of activating the remineralisation process.
It can lead to fluorosis. There is only one real disadvantage to taking fluoride supplements, but it is a major one – it can lead to fluorosis. Fluorosis is a condition that effects the health of the teeth, and its cause is solely attributed to over exposure to fluoride.
Fluorosis can actually lead to staining of the teeth, from a light yellow to a dark brown, and irregularities on the surface of the teeth as well. Fluoride supplements shouldn't lead to fluorosis as long as they are taken in moderation, but there is a risk of a patient taking too much and finding themselves with this condition.
Many dentists simply believe that toothpaste and mouthwash contains enough fluoride to maintain strong oral health, so it could be worth consulting with more than one dentist if you are unsure if fluoride supplements are right for you.