Posted on November 14, 2018
There are tons of conspiracy theories surrounding Los Angeles. From lizard people to the Illuminati in Hollywood, our community just can’t seem to get a break! We love hearing wacky stories friends, family, and even patients about our hometown and one our personal favorites at Orthodontics LA in Encino is about fluoride. In the past, Encino residents have protested against community water fluoridation in fear that it was a secret government experiment to chemically alter citizens. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Today, we’re debunking myths about fluoride that definitely don’t need to be circulating in this day and age.
Fluoride is derived from the chemical element, fluorine. It is a mineral that is naturally found in water, soil, and food. Both general dentists and orthodontists recommend incorporating fluoride into their patients’ dental hygiene routine and diet because it helps prevent cavities by strengthening the tooth enamel. When fluoride is consumed or used on the teeth, it remineralizes the outer layer of the teeth, creating a shield against acid-producing bacteria. That’s why so many toothpastes and mouthwashes advertise fluoride as an ingredient to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
When it comes to orthodontics, fluoride can be particularly helpful in rebuilding tooth and gum stability, so patients can withstand the pressure of braces. Especially for adults with years of dental wear and decay, periodontists often recommend using fluoride treatment to prepare the mouth for orthodontic treatment. Patients who already have braces can also benefit from fluoride use since teeth can be more difficult to clean with braces in the way.
If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your oral health, there are tons of products that are both artificially and naturally fortified with fluoride. In fact, most water sources and certain foods already contain the mineral. Fluoride is nontoxic and edible, so it can be applied topically or ingested for patients to reap its benefits. Though fluoride itself is harmless to consume, dental care products like toothpaste and mouthwash have other ingredients that do not make them edible.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Though fluoride is known to have provided patients with excellent oral health in the long run, the overconsumption of fluoride can have negative side effects. Children who ingest too much fluoride at a young age can develop enamel fluorosis. This is the irregular development of teeth that is characterized by brighter white spots or lines on the teeth and it’s caused by hypomineralization of the enamel.
In a few rare cases of fluorosis, the teeth retain amelogenin proteins from fluoride, keeping the enamel from properly maturing. Symptoms of are subsurface porosities or simply put, holes in the teeth that allow brown spots and stains on the teeth to form. Though there are no severe health consequences, this can be unattractive and hard to remove.
Despite this risk, most dental professionals agree that it is so uncommon that it shouldn’t be a concern for parents. Furthermore, it’s a superficial issue that has little to do with the patient’s actual health. The benefits definitely eclipse any potential side effects, so fluoride is still considered an important aspect of dental care.
Enamel fluorosis is extremely unlikely, especially since most people don’t even receive the recommended dosage of fluoride day-to-day. However, parents can always consult their pediatric dentist about when to begin incorporating fluoride into their children’s dental care regimen.
After discovering the amazing effects of fluoride, communities across the country began fortifying their water sources with higher fluoride levels. Although it already naturally exists in most water sources, it’s not enough to provide substantial health benefits. By introducing fluoride to the water supply, everyone is exposed to its cavity-fighting properties. Tooth decay can be reduced by up to 25% by just drinking water. In fact, the American Dental Association cites community fluoridation as the single most effective public health measure to aid dental health.
According the US Department of Health and Human Services Agency, water systems should adjust their fluoride content to around 0.7 mg/L. Studies have shown that this is the optimal level to help reduce the risk of dental caries with minimal chance of developing dental fluorosis.
In California, residents typically drink more water than other states because of the warm climate, so most cities provide lower fluoride levels in their water. In Los Angeles, most of the water systems are either fully fluoridated or partially fluoridated. Many cities receive a mixture of water from more than a single source, so it may lower amounts of fluoride.
For our patients who live in or around Encino, the water is mostly supplied by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, so all the water is fluoridated! Patients don’t have to worry too much if at all about getting enough fluoride for their dental health. If you’re from another city that doesn’t offer fortified water, you can always get fluoridated toothpaste.
Even though this conspiracy wasn’t true, we’d love to hear what weird rumors and scary stories our patients have heard around Encino. They’re especially fun to share for a braces-friendly Halloween horror night, so let us know the next time you have an appointment at Orthodontics LA! Our orthodontists are all ears, whether you have questions, concerns, or conspiracies to share.