Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound found in plants, rocks and at very low levels in almost all fresh water. It is used in many products related to oral health such as toothpastes and is also added to some of the drinking water in Victoria.
Water fluoridation and the benefits:
Water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride in drinking water to a level that helps protect teeth against tooth decay, resulting in fewer cavities.
Tooth decay occurs when acid destroys the outer surface (enamel) of the tooth. Fluoride can limit the amount of acid produced and can also repair damage before it becomes permanent.
By reducing tooth decay, water fluoridation can save individuals and families money on dental treatment such as fillings. It can also mean less time away from school and work because of tooth pain or dental treatment. The amount of fluoride added to the water is carefully controlled and monitored. You cannot taste or smell fluoride in your water.
More than three quarters of Victorians now drink water with either naturally-occurring or added fluoride. Water fluoridation is an effective, inexpensive and socially equitable way to reduce tooth decay in children and adults.
There is no scientific evidence linking water fluoridation with side effects such as cancer, bone fractures, Alzheimer’s disease or allergy.
Mottling of tooth enamel can occur if young children get too much fluoride (dental fluorosis). It is usually barely noticeable and also occurs in areas without water fluoridation. By using fluoridated toothpaste carefully, the chances of dental fluorosis can be reduced.
What is Good Oral Hygiene?
Good oral hygiene results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. This means:
- Your teeth are clean and free of debris.
- Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss.
- Bad breath is not a constant problem.
If your gums do hurt or bleed while brushing or flossing, or you are experiencing persistent bad breath, see your dentist. Any of these conditions may indicate a problem.
Your dentist or hygienist can help you learn good oral hygiene techniques and can help point out areas of your mouth that may require extra attention during brushing and flossing.
How is Good Oral Hygiene Practiced?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being.
Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress.
In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:
- Brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily.
- Eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks between meals.
- Using dental products that contain fluoride, including toothpaste.
- Rinsing with a fluoride mouthrinse if your dentist tells you to.
- Making sure that your children under 12 drink fluoridated water or take a fluoride supplement if they live in a non-fluoridated area.