The Virtues of Fluoride

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It’s not uncommon for medical breakthroughs to be met with skepticism. The data can be collected and the correlations outlined, but as a people, we still tend to doubt. Such is the case with fluoride. Medical communities herald the addition of fluoride to drinking water as one of the most important medical breakthroughs of all time. Despite this, it's still fairly common to come across literature and opinions that display fluoride as some kind of harmful trick. For instance, a quick search online will turn up websites with dramatized warnings about fluoride being in our drinking water to make us more pliable to government oversight.

The sad truth is that government officials are rarely as clever as the conspiracy theorists who villainize them. Adding fluoride to tap water was a result of dental researchers and the Aluminum Company of America delving into the mystery of why a small area in Colorado had incredibly high rates of tooth discoloration and low rates of tooth decay. These endeavors eventually led to the discovery of fluoride benefits in water, as that turned out to be the cause of the phenomena. Many studies later, the U.S. Public Health Service accepted the findings of the dental community and began the policy of adding fluoride to U.S. drinking water.

You might be thinking, ‘hey I don’t want cavities, but I don’t want stained teeth either.’ After all, this extreme staining is what snagged the attention of the dental community in the first place. Thankfully, part of the research performed was able to show that fluoride can still provide incredible tooth decay prevention properties when used in amounts too small to cause staining. Put simply, the enamel staining is a result of fluoride excess, while the tooth decay prevention is present even in much smaller quantities of the mineral. By mapping these margins, scientists were able to find the exact right amount to add to tap water. However, don’t forget that just because your drinking water is helping your teeth doesn’t mean they don’t still need a Tulsa teeth cleaning twice a year.

At this point, how fluoride aids our teeth is no longer a mystery. Through a process known as ‘remineralization,’ fluoride bonds with the phosphate and calcium in our teeth, strengthening and repairing the outer coating of enamel. This naturally occurring mineral is one of the dental communities’ strongest weapons in their arsenal against tooth decay. Considering that it’s naturally occurring and protects our teeth through such a simple and harmless mechanism, it’s no wonder the dental community considers it the holy grail of dental breakthroughs. Ask the dentist at your next Tulsa teeth cleaning how they feel about fluoride.

While there continues to be a debate within the American community (excluding dentists) at large over the fluoridation of drinking water (with those against being relatively small in number, though quite vocal), it’s worth noting that the degree to which topical fluoridated products, like toothpaste, are controversial has dropped considerably over the years. Partly, this is due to the wealth of research on the success, and harmlessness, of such products. Some of it, though, is a simple result of our cultural fears and values. People in the U.S. choose to imbibe odd chemicals and minerals all the time, both for health and recreation; so, the concerns people list about fluoride aren’t really consistent with our behavior. Key to this is the idea of choice. It’s not uncommon for folks to resist something forced upon them that they would have sought out on their own.

While we all must live with the healthy benefits of fluoridated water, you do get to choose where you go for your dental services. At Tulsa Modern Dental, you can rest assured that you made the right choice. Just click the link, and we’ll get your Tulsa teeth cleaning appointment on the books.