What Are the Side Effects of Fluoride Treatment?
Fluoride treatments are a minimally invasive and safe treatment approach to helping prevent tooth decay. Why fluoride? Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that when applied to the teeth can help restore the minerals lost. Due to its many health benefits, fluoride has several medicinal uses. For example, for years fluoride has been added to public drinking water in many large communities in the United States. This public policy approach to prevent tooth decay speaks to the safety and efficacy of fluoride. Additionally, you may be surprised to know that fluoride is in most toothpastes and mouthwashes. Fluoride is commonly taken by older adults with osteoporosis or individuals with rheumatoid arthritis to help treat weakened bones or prevent bone loss. Clearly there are many noted benefits of fluoride, but are there possible side effects? Here is more information about fluoride treatment and the possible side effects.
How Do Fluoride Treatments Work?
Everyday food and beverages bring bacteria into the mouth. When good oral hygiene is not maintained, this bacteria causes mineral loss in the tooth’s enamel. The enamel of the tooth is the outside protective layer that is critically important to protecting the tooth from bacteria that can weaken the tooth and cause decay. Fluoride treatments help restore the minerals in the tooth’s enamel. Fluoride treatments work by directly applying fluoride to the teeth to add minerals to the enamel. These treatments build up the enamel, making it stronger to help protect the teeth.
Side Effects of Fluoride Treatment
Research has shown that fluoride is safe in moderately low doses. The average amount in the public water supplies, toothpastes and mouthwashes, and applied by dentists all fall into this category of a low dose. In addition, it is possible to also take supplemental fluoride in a low dose (up to 20 mg per day of elemental fluoride) and still be safe. On the other hand, consuming or being exposed to too much fluoride, in larger doses, can weaken bones and ligaments, and cause muscle weakness or nervous system problems. For children, too much fluoride can result in tooth discoloration. If you or your family uses a toothpaste or mouthwash with fluoride, it is best to spit these products out and not swallow them.
For mothers who are pregnant or breast-feeding, special precaution with fluoride use is recommended. Fluoride is safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding, however, it is recommended to reduce use to smaller doses. A safe dose recommended is below the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of 10 mg per day. While higher doses are not recommended for pregnant women, no additional side effects have been found beyond those associated with the much higher doses, including weakened bones and ligaments, muscle weakness, and potential nervous system problems.
If your dentist has recommended additional or routine fluoride treatment, you should consider it a safe and effective treatment option to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is a natural element that has many potential benefits and will reduce the risk of tooth decay and the associated effects.