Your Teeth Love Fluoride, but is it Safe?
Barcelona’s Top English-Speaking Dentists Talk about Fluoride for your teeth
What we know:
- Fluoride is most important to developing and young teeth because it helps to make the outside covering (the enamel) stronger and more resistant to cavities.
- Only about 11% of Spanish public water supplies have added fluoride
- The amount of fluoride in bottled water can vary significantly.
- Regularly drinking water with at least 0.7 mg of fluoride per liter of water reduces the number of cavities in children.
- Consuming too much fluoride can be harmful. Excessive fluoride can cause white spots on your teeth and possibly weaken your skeleton and bones. Some studies in animals show that too much fluoride is toxic to nerve and brain cells.
What we don’t know:
- Whether adding fluoride to public water supplies helps prevent cavities in adults.
- Whether additional fluoride is needed in drinking water if adults are using fluoride-containing toothpastes, mouthwashes, or fluoride varnishes.
- The exact fluoride content in the most-commonly consumed bottled water in Barcelona.
- You can read this helpful synopsis from Harvard School of Public Health, “Is Fluoridated Drinking Water Safe?”
- Regardless of whether you drink bottled, filtered or tap water, you can help your children have healthier teeth with a few basic steps:
- Watch them brush their teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Use a fluoridated mouthwash after brushing and don’t rinse with water afterwards.
- Take them to the dentist for fluoride varnish application 1-2 times each year.
Our English-speaking dentists want your family to have a lifetime of healthy smiles, so that is why we especially focus on fluoride for our pediatric dental patients. We recently started offering dental fluoride varnish treatments for our pediatric patients.
Why offer fluoride varnish and what is it?
Fluoride varnish is a clear, non-toxic, usually flavored gel, like a nailpolish, that a dentist or hygienist “paints” on to the outside surface of your children’s teeth at the time of a dental cleaning or check-up appointment. Applying the varnish does not hurt at all and usually takes only a couple of minutes to apply.
We encourage all children have fluoride varnish applied 1-2 times a year, from the time that they start visiting the dentist (ideally once the first tooth comes in). The American Dental Association, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, the UK’s National Health Service, and several other international public health organizations all recommend regular fluoride varnish application in children.
Fluoride varnish works in children because:
- Children don’t always do the best job of thoroughly cleaning their teeth, so the varnish adds an extra layer of cavity prevention
- The fluoride varnish strengthens the outer tooth enamel.
- In children that have already had multiple cavities, fluoride varnish can also help slow down and even prevent future cavities.
Parents, if you have more questions about fluoride varnish, you can read the American Academy of Pediatrics Helpful Information Sheet about Fluoride Varnish.
Our specially-trained English-speaking pediatric dentists love to talk with parents and children about healthy smiles and preventing cavities.
Written by Amy Harris