Perhaps an Open (and Fair) Discussion is Needed About Fluoride and Its Benefits

| 8 min read

Oral health basics tip toward brushing and flossing. Fluoride treatment might be considered another front-line solution to combat tooth decay and cavities.

Dentists and dental professional along with the American Dental Association (ADA) have supported the use of fluoride for decades. Even so, (to be fair) there are also pros and cons relative to fluoride use.

Stay on-board as we dive into the fluoride discussion - covering the benefits, exploring why dentists (and the ADA) recommend it, what a few of the potentially misunderstood disadvantages are, and how fluoride treatment works.

Why fluoride gives you a beneficial advantage

Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel

This tops the benefits list associated with fluoride treatment. Though your tooth enamel is a strong, protective layer on the outer surface of your teeth, it can become weakened.

Weak or eroded tooth enamel can make your teeth vulnerable to acid erosion from lack of care and from what you consume. Weakened enamel can also increase your risk for cavities.

Fluoride, on the other hand, has the capability to remineralize your tooth enamel.

Benefits include:

  • Increased resistance to acids produced by oral bacteria.
  • The prevention of cavity formation.

Fluoride assists with tooth decay prevention

The same protective qualities of fluoride relative to your tooth enamel are also essential to preventing tooth decay.

A stronger, protective tooth surface helps reduce the risk of bacteria penetrating your tooth enamel that can potentially lead to cavities.

Children especially need preventive support to reduce tooth decay risk. Their developing teeth can benefit from fluoride treatment and give them an advantage for lifelong healthy teeth.

Fluoride supports gum health

Periodontal (gum) health is a top priority alongside decay and cavity prevention. Untreated gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) can lead to tooth loss and/or other serious health complications.

Fluoride helps reduce your gum disease risk. A stronger tooth structure naturally supports your gum health leading to good overall oral health.

With those benefits in mind, it makes sense that fluoride is a recommended treatment.

The validation for dentists recommending fluoride

Dentists line-up in support of fluoride for a variety of reasons. Aside from the previously mentioned benefits, (they) along with the ADA, recognize the evidence that validates fluoride use.

Fluoride is backed by science

Research and clinical studies support the effectiveness of fluoride for stronger tooth enamel and cavity prevention.

Fluoride is known to be safe and effective

"Use-as-directed" applies here. Safe and effective results from fluoride use are among the reasons it's an available ingredient in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and as a professional treatment in dental offices.

The professional use of fluoride by a licensed dentist is tailored to your individual needs to ensure your safety and desired results.

Fluoride gives children an advantage for cavity prevention

This is worth repeating: children's susceptibility to tooth decay makes fluoride treatment a valuable tool in their development years.

With the benefits and advantages in mind, fairness requires that we give equal emphasis to the other side of fluoride.

The common and potential disadvantages of fluoride treatment


This technical-sounding term is the result of excessive fluoride exposure. The condition often occurs when fluoride is applied during tooth development.

Fluorosis is a cosmetic issue that appears as a discoloration on affected teeth.

  • Mild white streaks or spots


  • More severe brown or "pitted" tooth enamel

Overall, fluorosis is rare and typically occurs when you are exposed to high/elevated levels of fluoride that could be present in drinking water.

Allergic reactions

This fluoride related condition is rare. Those affected could experience symptoms such as:

  • Skin rashes
  • Hives
  • Swelling

These types of allergic conditions due to fluoride are uncommon and are not recommended as a strong deterrent from using fluoride-based dental products or agreeing to fluoride treatment.

Ingestion issues

The excessive use or ingestion of fluoride can have a negative effect on your health. The risk would include an impact on your bones or other tissues.

Minimizing or eliminating this risk would include:

  • Use of fluoride products and treatment with professional supervision - such as your dentist.
  • Ensuring that fluoride levels in your drinking water are safe and monitored.

How fluoride treatment works safely and effectively

There are a variety of options for receiving the benefits of fluoride. Following are the common fluoride treatment solutions.

Dental products containing fluoride

This is the most simple path to fluoride treatment. Your dentist or dental hygienist can recommend toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride.

Regular use of these products as part of your daily oral health routine will help ensure the protective benefit of fluoride for your tooth enamel and cavity prevention.

Professional application of fluoride

Your dentist is a primary source for receiving the benefits of fluoride. A topical fluoride application is more concentrated and potentially effective than over-the-counter products containing fluoride.

Fluoride applied by your dentist or dental hygienist can be in the form of a gel, foam, or "varnish." The treatment can be applied during an in-person dental check-up.

The benefits of fluoride alongside the cautions from over-exposure or misuse help enhance its credibility. With the support of the ADA and your dentist, you can trust fluoride as basic oral health tool.

Ask your dentist about fluoride and share your questions or concerns to be more informed about the treatment's benefits.

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