At Broad Street Dental Surgery we pride ourselves on prevention, oral hygiene, diet advise and fluoride advise. Today was just like a normal day at the surgery until the very last patient of the day was half way out the door, then just out of the blue did the old Columbo “Just one more thing Mr Farr”
Mrs S. then produced a small bottle from her coat pocket – Eucalyptus oil blue gum for “teeth and gums” and a “healthy alternative to toothpaste” Mrs S. asked for my opinion and if it was better for her teeth than her normal fluoride containing toothpaste.
Being from a scientific (and quite sceptical) background where we are continuously and rightly reminded of evidence based dentistry I did just want to throw the product out of the window! With the level of decay that I see in children in the Primary setting I feel quite strongly about fluoride, topical fluoride and follow Delivering better oral health: an evidence-based toolkit for prevention
Fortunately for my ease on the back of the bottle in very small writing the bottle said “this product is not intended for the prevention and treatment of dental decay or gum disease.”
I explained what is fluoride and it’s benefits and risks.
What are the benefits of fluoride?
Fluoride can greatly help dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce.
Children who have fluoride when their teeth are developing tend to have shallower grooves in their teeth, so plaque can be more easily removed. Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth.
The addition of fluoride to water has been researched for over 60 years, and water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay by 40 to 60 percent.
Clearly the best form of decay prevention is good oral hygiene and diet. By reducing the amount of sugars/ refined carbohydrates in your diet which “feed” the cariogenic bacteria in your mouth and brushing with fluoride that helps to remineralise enamel and is in itself bactericidal.
Is fluoride safe?
Many reports have been published throughout the world about fluoride. After many years, the scientific conclusion is that fluoride toothpaste and correctly fluoridated water, salt and milk are of great benefit to dental health, help to reduce decay, and cause no harmful side effects to general health. Studies have not found any evidence that fluoride added to water causes harmful side effects.
People who are against fluoridation claim they have firm evidence that fluoride added to water is harmful. However, scientific analysis has not supported their claims.
Worldwide, over 300 million people drink fluoridated water supplies. Many millions more use fluoride toothpastes regularly. In the USA for example, well over half of the population have fluoridated water supplies. This has led to improved levels of dental health which in turn benefits general health.
Mrs S. was happy with our discussion. She was given information so that she could make an informed choice on her dental health. The Eucalyptus oil wasn’t thrown in the bin as such but Mrs S. will use it from time to time.
The battle against decay continues!