The Lowdown on Fluoride

Australian Dental Association

Australian Dental Association

Australian Dental Association aims to encourage the improvement of the oral and general health of the public, promote the ethics, art and science of dentistry and support members to provide safe, high quality professional oral care.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 2 mins read
The Lowdown on Fluoride

Tooth decay is a preventable disease. There are four main steps in keeping a healthy mouth, these include eating a diet low in sugar, brushing and flossing daily and regularly visiting a dentist. Following these simple steps will help you in keeping your child’s mouth healthy. However, the prevention of tooth decay is aided thanks to the use of fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which plays a critical role in strengthening your teeth in the fight against decay.

What is the deal with Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that’s found in rocks and soil, vegetables and grains, as well as in fresh and saltwater. Exposing the teeth in the mouth to fluoride helps to strengthen and replace the minerals lost from the tooth surfaces that have been attacked by the bacterial acid.

How long have we been using fluoridated water?

Fluoride has been added to water supplies in many Australian towns and cities since the late 1950s and is often hailed as one of the great public health achievements of the last century. Drinking fluoridated tap water has a considerable effect on the ability of your teeth to fight decay. Fluoridated water remains the most cost-effective, and socially equitable way of preventing tooth decay.

Are there any negative health effects?

Fluoride use, at recommended levels, has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to consumer’s dental health, with no demonstrated systemic health effects. The most common adverse effect of swallowed fluoride, when exposed to greater than recommended amounts, is ‘dental fluorosis.’

If your child’s adult teeth are exposed to a little too much fluoride as they are developing under the gums, it can affect the appearance of these teeth. In mild cases, small white flecks appear in the tooth enamel; this does not damage the teeth nor make them weak; it can become less noticeable over time. In more severe cases, the enamel may have brown discolourations or appear pitted.

As the use of fluoride drops and tablets are no longer recommended in Australia, moderate to severe fluorosis is uncommon.

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