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Fluoride Myths vs. Facts

Fluoride. It’s a word that sparks strong opinions across Philadelphia, both in and out of the dental office, often based on misconceptions. But what’s the real story on this mineral and its impact on our oral health? Let’s separate fact from fiction and shed some light on the most common fluoride myths you hear in center city Philly dental offices.

Myth #1: Fluoride is a dangerous chemical harmful to health.
Fact: Fluoride is actually a naturally occurring mineral found in soil, water, and even some foods like grapes and leafy greens. While high doses can be harmful, the levels added to public water supplies, like in Philadelphia, or found in toothpaste are safe and beneficial for strengthening tooth enamel. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even recognizes community water fluoridation as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century!

Myth #2: You don’t need fluoride for healthy teeth.
Fact: Fluoride plays a vital role in preventing tooth decay. It acts in two ways:

  • Remineralization: Fluoride helps repair tiny areas of erosion in tooth enamel, making teeth more resistant to cavities.
  • Strengthens developing teeth: When consumed during childhood, fluoride gets incorporated into developing teeth, making them stronger from the start.

While brushing and flossing are essential, fluoride provides an extra layer of defense against cavities.

Myth #3: Fluoride causes fluorosis, which ruins your smile.
Fact: Fluorosis is a condition caused by ingesting too much fluoride while teeth are developing (usually before age 8). It can cause mild white spots on teeth, but these are usually barely noticeable and don’t harm your smile’s function. In fact, most cases of fluorosis are very mild.

Here’s the key takeaway: The amount of fluoride added to public water supplies is carefully monitored to ensure it’s effective in preventing cavities while minimizing the risk of fluorosis. If you have concerns, especially for young children, contact us at Dentistry at 1818 Market Street about alternative sources of fluoride, like fluoride-free toothpaste for young children.

Myth #4: I get enough fluoride from bottled water, so fluoridated tap water is unnecessary.
Fact: While some bottled water brands do contain fluoride, many don’t. Unless you consistently check the label and choose brands with fluoride, you might be missing out on its benefits. Philadelphia’s public water fluoridation ensures a consistent level of fluoride for everyone in the community, regardless of income or access to bottled water.

Myth #5: Fluoride is a medicine and shouldn’t be added to public water.
Fact: Fluoride is not a medicine, but a mineral naturally present in water sources. Adding fluoride to public water is more akin to fortifying foods with essential vitamins. It’s a safe and cost-effective public health measure that benefits entire communities.

Keeping Your Smile Healthy: The Importance of Fluoride
Fluoride is a powerful tool in our fight against tooth decay in Philadelphia dental offices. By understanding the facts and dispelling the myths, you can make informed choices for your oral health. Here are some tips:

Remember, a healthy smile starts with good habits and a clear understanding of how to take care of your teeth. So, keep smiling and keep those pearly whites strong with the power of fluoride!  We look forward to seeing you for your next dental appointment at Dentistry at 1818 Market Street – a dental office conveniently located in Center City, Philadelphia.