What are the benefits of fluoride and is it safe?
Fluoride is a mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay. It can both help repair the early stages of tooth decay and aid in making teeth more resistant to future cavities. You can find fluoride in toothpastes, mouthwashes, other dental products, and public water supply.
Almost all water contains some natural fluoride, but the levels are typically too low to have any preventative benefits. Many communities choose to add fluoride to their water supply to benefit oral health. This process, called community water fluoridation, has led to a significant decline in tooth decay during the past six decades.
The Department of Health and Human Services currently recommends that community water systems have between 0.7 and 1.2 mg/L of fluoride to provide beneficial dental effects. Despite this common practice, not all community water supplies contain these levels of fluoride. Below are the water fluoride levels of many of our neighboring cities:
- Belton: 1.00 mg/L
- Raymore: 1.00 mg/L
- Pleasant Hill: Below the level considered optimal for prevention of dental caries
- Lee’s Summit: Below the level considered optimal for prevention of dental caries
- Grandview: 1.00 mg/L
If you do not see your community listed, you can find more information here.
While fluoride does have many dental benefits, it is true that too much fluoride can be harmful. Dental fluorosis is caused by taking in too much fluoride over a long period of time during tooth development (during the first eight years of a child’s life). Fluorosis can appear as faint white lines or streaks in the tooth enamel, but has no other impact on the health or function of teeth.
For this reason, we recommend that for children under the age of three, caregivers brush their children’s teeth with a smear of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice twice daily. For children aged three to six, parents should dispense no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice daily and supervise their children while brushing to minimize the swallowing of toothpaste. By following these recommendations, you can be sure that your children get the protective benefits of fluoride without any risk!