What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a compound of fluorine, a naturally occurring element. Fluoride is easily absorbed into the tooth’s enamel and can help the teeth become more decay-resistant. “Systemic” fluoride is often found in local water supplies and can be obtained in dietary supplement form.

Why are most of the water we drink and local water supplies fluoridated?
Fluoridated water helps to protect us against dental problems such as cavities. Preventive fluoridated public water is considered the most cost-effective and efficient preventive dental tool. It is available to over 144 million residents of the United States. Nearly every major health and safety-related organization endorses public water fluoridation.

What is a “topical” fluoride and when should I use it?
“Topical” fluoride is the fluoride found in toothpastes, mouth rinses, and other products designed to fight against tooth decay. Topical fluoride products are applied directly to the teeth and rinsed from the mouth. Dr. Schlotterer can apply fluoride gels and varnishes during a cleaning treatment to improve your resistance to decay. Some patients may benefit from a special fluoride gel at home. This prescription fluoride can be applied with or without a custom mouth tray for up to six weeks.

Can I get too much fluoride?
Basically, yes. Fluoride is considered safe unless over-concentrated or misused. Drinking water that is excessively can cause fluorosis, a harmless condition where the teeth are discolored. Do not swallow mouth rinses, toothpaste, or other topical supplements to avoid this condition. Call the local public water department if you have questions about the fluoride levels in your local drinking water.

Are children more sensitive to fluoride?
Children are generally more susceptible to dental fluorosis because their teeth are still developing. This makes them more sensitive to higher fluoride levels. It is important to monitor your child’s toothpaste intake. If you are concerned about it, we invite you to consult with Durham dentist Dr. Schlotterer or your pediatric dentist.