What Lower Fluoride Levels Mean for Oral Health

Fluoride Toothpaste

Earlier this year the government reduced the recommended level of fluoride present in drinking water. It went down from a range of 0.7 to 1.2 ppm to .07 ppm. There hasn’t been a change in recommended fluoride levels in water in 50 years. The reason for the change is the hope to prevent staining tooth enamel through extended fluoride exposure, but many people are wondering how the change will affect their oral health and if they should opt for dental fluoride treatments.

Understanding fluorosis

The government’s decision to reduce recommended fluoride levels was made to help address the issue of exposing the teeth too heavily to fluoride. When teeth receive too much exposure to fluoride, it can create white specks or dark spots on teeth, and this is called fluorosis. Tooth surfaces may become pitted or rough during extreme fluorosis, and this can be more than just a cosmetic issue. Teeth with pitted surfaced may be more vulnerable to decay as they’ll accumulate bacteria and plaque easier. Teeth are most susceptible to fluorosis as they’re forming, which means that children exposed to excessive fluoride as an infant have the highest chance of developing fluorosis in their permanent teeth. Fluoride helps rebuild enamel once they come in, and they’re less prone to the discoloration of fluorosis.

Importance of knowing fluoride levels

For someone concerned about the changing fluoride levels, it’s important that they know the level of fluoride in their drinking water. The government only regulates adding fluoride to certain water sources, and if someone is on a well, there’s not regulation for fluoride on that water source. Some bottled water has fluoride added, but it’s a good idea to ask the dentist what the recommended fluoride intake is for certain ages.

Personal preference

Although the change in recommended fluoride levels has significance because it hasn’t happened in 50 years, that doesn’t mean it will change people’s personal preferences and practices when it comes to drinking fluoridated water. People who don’t want to drink tap water due to concerns of fluoride content will most likely continue to avoid drinking tap water. There’s greater access to fluoride today than there was when the initial fluoride recommendations were issued, so it’s possible that children and adults receive adequate amounts through toothpaste and mouth rinses. Those concerned with low fluoride levels should still consult with their dentists about fluoride options and how to protect their oral health.

If you have questions about the change in the fluoride levels in water, contact Chianese Dental today. We want to ensure the health and beauty of your smile for a lifetime.

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