Earlier this year, you may have noticed that our government lowered its recommended level of fluoride in drinking water from a range of 0.7-1.2 ppm to a standard 0.7 ppm. This was the first such change for half-a-century, and their aim is to prevent staining of tooth enamel through overexposure.
Our team of dentists here at Southeast Family Dental in Indianapolis, have already been asked for their advice by patients about what this might mean for them. This is particularly the case in terms of deciding whether to have dental fluoride treatments. So we thought this would make a useful topic for our blog section.
Why change fluoride levels?
You might wonder why some pay keen attention to these levels. It is often the case that, if teeth are exposed too heavily to fluoride, it can cause white specks (known as fluorosis) or, more noticeably, dark spots to form on your teeth. Extreme fluorosis can cause tooth surfaces to become rough and pitted. While most of the time, fluorosis is a cosmetic issue, if the teeth are pitted, the tooth surface can actually be more prone to decay because it will pick of plaque and bacteria.
Some things to consider are that teeth are most susceptible to fluorosis during formation. This means that children are at the highest risk of developing fluorosis on their permanent teeth if exposed to too much fluoride as an infant. Once teeth have come in, they use the fluoride to rebuild enamel, but are not as susceptible to the white and dark spots.
What can you do about it?
The most important thing to be aware of if you’re concerned about fluoride, is to know the levels in the water you are drinking. The fluoride added to drinking water is only to those sources that are regulated by the government. Areas that use well water are not regulated. This means that checking your fluoride levels would be even more important as they can be much higher or lower than recommended levels. Also, it should be known that bottled water does not contain fluoride.
On the news of the fluoride levels being changed for the first time in 50 years, we believe it will not significantly change thoughts and practices around fluoridated water. Those who were reluctant to drink tap water because of the fluoride content probably won’t change their minds and return to drinking it because of this. Equally, if you feel your fluoride level might be too low, you should ask your dentist about options for fluoride treatment during your next appointment.
This first change to the recommended levels since John F Kennedy’s presidency was brought about because we now have access to more sources of fluoride than at that time. This is true of both the increasing number of toothpaste and mouth rinse products now available. If you have any other questions about this change, simply contact us a call here at Southeast Family Dental and we’ll be happy to clarify any points for you.