Most toothpastes in stores are labeled “fluoride-free”, “fluoride-free”. The conclusion suggests itself that this element is best avoided. Especially for children. Like it or not, aif.ru tells pediatric dentist Anna Molotkova.
Despite all sorts of studies and scientific publications in authoritative medical sources about the benefits of fluoride in the prevention of caries, persistent beliefs about the dangers of fluoride are still widespread in the post-Soviet space. What is wrong with this element and where is the truth actually?
Let’s remember chemistry
“If we look at the periodic table, we will see that fluorine is the most chemically active element among non-metals, the strongest oxidizing agent, and also the lightest of the halogens. In addition, fluorine in its pure form is a poisonous gas, an extremely aggressive substance, which, fortunately, does not occur in a free state in nature,” says Molotkova. “However, when reacting with other substances, fluorine forms non-toxic compounds with them, which also have a wide range of applications.”
Fluoride, which is used in toothpastes, is exactly that, where it is contained in the form of salts called fluorides. These are neutral substances, they do not have the negative impact on our body that fluorine in gaseous form is capable of.
“As for the second “horror story” about the fact that fans of brushing their teeth with fluoride paste sooner or later have white spots on their tooth enamel, this is not true either, the expert is sure. “After all, a low concentration of fluoride in toothpaste is not capable of causing damage to tooth enamel due to an increase in the level of fluoride in the body.” The concentration of fluoride in toothpaste is measured in ppm – that is, reflects the number of fluoride particles per million. In Russia, the recommendations for the amount of ppm fluorine are lower than the world standards. Therefore, our pastes with fluoride certainly will not cause trouble.
Misconceptions about the adverse effects of fluoride scientists have refuted more than 40 years ago. The World Health Organization and various professional societies around the world are talking about the benefits of fluoride for dental health. Experts from the Russian Dental Association also consider fluoride to be the most effective means of caries prevention.
Why fluoride is good for teeth
Tooth decay is a process of tooth decay caused by acids that form on the enamel when bacteria and sugars from food interact. At a certain level of acidity, positively and negatively charged ions begin to be released from the enamel of the teeth. The use of toothpaste with fluorides makes the structure of tooth enamel stronger, less soluble, since fluorohydroxyapatite is formed on the surface of the teeth due to fluoride – a compound that is ten times more resistant to caries than ordinary tooth enamel. So in fact, the absence of fluorine in the paste is rather its disadvantage.
Today, caries in children is growing very noticeably. That is why the European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and other reputable dental organizations agree on the following recommendations:
– children under six years of age should use a paste with a fluoride concentration of 1000 ppm. Depending on the individual risk of developing caries in a child, the amount of paste should be the size of a grain of rice for children from three years old and no more than a pea for children from three to six years old. Also, during brushing, the presence of adults is necessary so that children do not swallow the paste;
Children six years of age and older should use 1500 ppm fluoride toothpaste and increase the amount of paste to the full length of the brush.
– Teeth should be brushed twice a day for two minutes. It is important to brush your teeth in the evening before going to bed and in the morning or immediately after eating.
Yes, there are fluorides in the water.
Fluoridation of tap water is carried out in various regions of Russia. Therefore, in the vast majority of regions of the country, the level of fluorine in water is optimal. You can find out the fluoride content in your area on the website of the city water utility.
But it is impossible to assume that centralized water fluoridation is sufficient for the prevention of caries. And to be afraid of an overdose of fluoride – too. Fluoride in tap water can’t harm your teeth, even if you supplement with fluoride products and use toothpaste that contains this mineral.
“However, in regions with high levels of fluoride in the water, children under five years of age may be prescribed a toothpaste without fluoride. At the same time, it is important to consider what kind of water the family uses for drinking and cooking: bottled or tap water, as well as what is the current condition of the child’s teeth, is there a risk of developing caries, says dentist Anna Molotkova. – Toothpaste with fluoride in an age-appropriate concentration and in an acceptable amount will help you strengthen enamel and protect teeth from caries. It is important to follow the instructions for using such a paste, and consult a specialist without delay if you or your children have any dental problems.