Fluoride and Teeth Whitening

Fluoride is part of the chemical ion fluorine.

This element is the 13th most abundant to be found on the earth’s crust.

Fluoride occurs naturally in many foods, soil, and water.

The minerals fluorite and fluorapatite also contain fluoride. While freshwater contains 0.01 – 0.03 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride, seawater contains 1.3 ppm.

In some parts of the world, you will find higher concentrations of fluoride in fresh water and this can cause various health problems.

Fluoride can be synthesized in laboratories and this is then added to various dental products like mouthwashes and toothpaste, chemical products and drinking water.

Fluoride for the Teeth

Researchers have found that in the 1930s, people who drank water that contained natural fluoride suffered from fewer cavities than those who did not.

Since then, many research organizations around the world have studied the effects of fluoride for the teeth.  Fluoride is said to help protect in 2 ways.

It can protect from demineralization caused by acids.

This occurs when sugar and bacteria in our mouth combine to produce acids that erode teeth and damage minerals. It can also help with remineralization by strengthening teeth damaged by acids.

Regular use of fluoride-based products can prevent tooth decay and the formation of cavities.   

Fluoride helps to harden the enamel of babies and of adult teeth as they emerge.

By being present during the demineralization and remineralization process, it can strengthen teeth and prevent dissolution of minerals, therefore hardening enamel and preventing tooth decay.  

Fluoride is required by those who have poor snacking habits, observe poor dental hygiene, eat a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugars, have a history of cavities or have restorations done on their teeth like braces, caps or crowns.

Sometimes when natural water contains less fluoride, government authorities may add more to prevent deficiency of fluoride for people in that area.

Benefits of Fluoride for Teeth Whitening

During teeth whitening, various products like hydrogen peroxide and fluoride can help to remove stains, dirt, and debris that form on the teeth due to the food we eat and drink, age, trauma etc. there are many do-it-yourself home teeth whitening solutions that are inexpensive and effective.

One of these is a whitening toothpaste or rinse that can help maintain teeth that are already whitened and prevent further staining.  

There are many teeth whitening products with fluoride and you can get the opinion of your dentist or online feedbacks to choose the right product for your requirements.

A whitening toothpaste or rinse with fluoride is quick and easy to use.

They can even be used when traveling or at work, therefore helping you to maintain a bright smile at all times.  

While fluoride does not really whiten teeth, it is often added to teeth whitening products for it can help deal with the sensitivity caused by teeth whitening.

The bleaching gel that is used can weaken enamel, cause sensitivity of teeth and gums and even irritation and inflammation of soft tissues of the mouth.

Most teeth whitening formulas use fluoride to off-set these side effects.

Sometimes, those whose teeth are deeply stained and require higher concentrations of bleaching gel to be used could be given prescription fluoride by the dentist to counter the sensitivity. 

Many companies that produce teeth whitening products like ‘Opalescence’ add fluoride and potassium nitrate combination to offer a more comfortable whitening product that causes fewer side effects.

Potassium nitrate provides quick relief for sensitivity.

Fluoride increases the hardness of enamel and also reduces sensitivity. A combination of both can provide a better whitening result with fewer side effects.

Issues and Precautions

However, excess fluoride can also cause some health problems.

Knowing if you are getting sufficient fluoride is therefore essential.

If your drinking water contains fluoride, then simply brushing with fluoride-based toothpaste is sufficient.

However, if your water does not contain fluoride, your dentist may advise a supplement of fluoride drops or tablets. The right levels of fluoride will prevent tooth decay.  

Overuse or overexposure to fluoride can cause dental or skeletal fluorosis. Dental fluorosis can cause white specks or teeth to appear on teeth enamel.

In more severe cases, the enamel becomes rough and pitted and there could be permanent discoloration or brown markings on the teeth.

The critical period of fluoride exposure is 1-4 years and dentists always advise people to be most cautious when they have children in this age group.  

Only higher levels of fluoride will cause side effects and can lead to muscle weakness, nervous system problems and weaken bones and ligaments. Make sure that children do not swallow fluoride rinses.

When pregnant and breastfeeding, make sure you use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes with care.

Tolerable upper levels are 10mg / day when directly used. 

Teeth Whitening Products with Fluoride

Most products with fluoride in them are available as toothpaste or rinses.

  • ‘Fluoride Whitening Rinse’ from Listerine offer you both whitening benefits and helps with enamel restoration. This gives you both stronger and healthier teeth.
  • ‘Whitening Toothpaste Cool Mint with Fluoride” from Opalescence – This toothpaste can remove surface stains from teeth, has a refreshing mint flavor that is also a cavity fighter. This product has very good customer reviews with many stating that it does help whiten teeth and is also beneficial to maintain teeth after whitening treatments.
  • ‘Total Whitening Toothpaste’ from Colgate contains anti-cavity fighting fluoride. It can whiten teeth, fight the buildup of tartar and is an accepted product by the American Dental Association.
  • ‘Rembrandt Deeply White Whitening Mouthwash with Fluoride’ has a fresh mint flavor. It is formulated to fight bad breath and also contains hydrogen peroxide that releases rapidly when you use it to get to even deep-seated stains and clean them. You can get visibly whiter teeth with regular use. Sodium fluoride can also protect teeth from acid attacks and restore damaged tooth enamel.

You can find more such products at your local drugstore, supermarket or at online retail stores like Amazon.

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