There are proponents of fluoride and opponents of fluoride and, of course, reasons for both. Opponents of fluoride cite the fact that children 8 years of age and younger exposed to too much fluoride can develop tooth stains called fluorosis, a mottling and staining of the teeth. However, in appropriate amounts, fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. In 2007, it was noticed that from the 80s on, more children were presenting with fluorosis again. To combat this, the level of fluoride in municipal water supplies was lowered to 0.7 milligrams per liter. At this level children and adults can reap the benefits of how fluoride strengthens tooth enamel without the drawback of fluorosis stains.
How Fluoride Works
Tooth decay is caused by harmful oral bacteria that feed on sugars and starches and produce enamel eating acids. Although most people believe that sugar eats away at your teeth, it is actually the acids produced by the oral bacteria that dissolve your tooth enamel and then your tooth dentin. What is actually happening is that the acids demineralize your teeth by leaching calcium and phosphate from the enamel and other hard tissue. This is what causes cavities. Your saliva contains these minerals and helps remineralize your tooth enamel. Fluoride also contains phosphate and calcium and remineralizes your teeth, helping to not only strengthen your teeth but reverse the decaying process when it is in its earliest stages.
The American Dental Association (ADA)
According to years of research and the ADA, fluoride is both safe and effective. It has been indicated via scientific research that fluoride helps reduce cavities by up to 30 percent.