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Fluoride treatments and the health implications

Fluoride treatments

What is flouride treatment? Teeth enamel is porous. This makes teeth vulnerable to acid attacked. Fluoride is used to harden the tooth enamel and can make it resistant to acid exposure. This means that the teeth are protected against cavities as well as reduce tooth sensitivity.

Dentist normally recommends a fluoride topical treatment twice a year for children through their adolescent years to help prevent cavities, but also for patients who suffer from chronic dry mouth, generalized gingival recession, and sensitive teeth. Alternatively, the fluoride can be added to the diet, mostly through water fluoridation. Unlike a topical treatment where only the surface is hardened, the whole tooth is harden. Still, a topical application involves a trays with the fluoride generally left in place for one minute, after which the mouth is thoroughly suctioned to remove as much of the medication as possible. After the treatment, the patient is requested not to eat or drink anything for thirty minutes so that the greatest deposition of fluoride into the teeth may occur.

Fluoride is also added to toothpastes, gels and oral rinses. Applied to the surface of the teeth and they aren’t meant to be swallowed.

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Healing time

There is no healing time issues associated with fluoride treatments.

Disadvantages and risks

Fluoride is a prescription drug for a reason. If taken internally in large enough doses, fluoride can be lethal. If taken at appropriate doses, or used topically, but not swallowed, it can be very beneficial.

Fatalities involving fluoride are not unheard of; however deaths related to the use of dental fluoride are extremely rare. Nonetheless, all supplemental fluoride tablets, chews, suspensions and other forms of fluoride should be kept out of the reach of children, and used properly as directed—even if a child is the intended recipient.

If swallowed, a normal dose of topical fluoride applied by your dental professional can cause nausea and vomiting, especially in kids. Topical fluoride applied by dentists contains about 15,000 parts per million fluoride ion. This is about three times as much as is found in prescription formulations for home use by adults, and about ten times the amount found in regular fluoride toothpaste.

Of more practical concern (accidents and negligence aside), there is potential to view fluoride as a “magic bullet” in preventing tooth decay. However, there is no substitute for excellent oral hygiene and proper nutrition, meaning the frequency of sugary/acidic food and beverage exposures per day should be minimized.

A fairly common condition known as fluorosis can occur as a result of chronic over-exposure to fluoride, such as might occur if a child drinks fluoridated water and (against recommendations) ingests daily fluoride supplements. Some parts of the world have abnormally high fluoride concentration occurring naturally in the drinking water. In fact, that’s how its benefits were discovered. Some countries like the United Kingdom has banned the use of fluoride in water, with the link association it has to cancer.

Other possible health risks include:

  • Increases lead absorption
  • Disrupts collagen synthesis
  • Hyperactivity
  • Crippling skeletal fluorosis and bone fractures
  • Genetic damage and cell death
  • Disrupts immune system
  • Inhibits antibody production
  • Brain damage and lowered IQ
  • Dementia
  • Arthritis
  • Severe eye problems, which can include blindness
  • Impaired thyroid function
  • Bone cancer (osteosarcoma)
  • Inactivates 62 enzymes
  • Muscle disorders

That said, fluoride isn’t as effective at reducing pit and fissure cavities as it is at reducing smooth surface cavities. There is an alternative to be used to harden teeth, that of cocoa.

Alternative option to fluoride – Cocoa

Beavers are known for their strong teeth, and this is since there are high levels of iron in their teeth. Cocoa has high levels of iron, and the application could strengthen your teeth. Therefore, cacao-extract toothpaste which has theobromine can be more effective than fluoride based toothpaste and without the health risks that are associated with fluoride.

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In fact the research has indicated that when lesions in artificial enamel were treated with theobromine, remineralization occurred at a greater rate than when they were treated with fluoride. The research also indicated that theobromine made teeth less vulnerable to bacterial acid erosion that could lead to cavities.

The problem is that large international companies are supporting the use of fluoride based toothpaste as being the standard, of which they earn income. However, the risks, particular in Europe and in the United Kingdom has been lodged against the ingredient fluoride. These alternative products, such as theobromine and other natural toothpaste products could be an effective alternative.

About Jacques Dippenaar

Jacques is an influential health blogger and researcher helping readers explore interesting facts and information.

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