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You might hear a lot about fluoride from many different sources. As a result, some people are confused about its uses and benefits. Here are a few questions people have about fluoride.

What is it? Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral found in almost all water on the planet. It is also found in some food items.

What does it do? Our teeth go through a process called “demineralization” every day, where acid attacks our tooth enamel and it loses minerals like calcium and phosphate, becoming weaker. Fluoride remineralizes teeth, reincorporating lost minerals and strengthening enamel.

Do fluoride supplements work? Fluoride supplements DO work, if they have appropriate amounts fluoride. All kinds of companies make all kinds of products, so to be sure of correct fluoride content, look for an ADA Seal of Acceptance on toothpaste and other products. Community-fluoridated water has also been shown to reduce tooth decay in populations it serves, and contains safe levels of fluoride.

Can I have too much fluoride? Yes, you can, but it is difficult. Over-the-counter products don’t contain enough to cause problems, and you need a prescription to obtain a supplement with higher levels. Some natural water sources contain high levels of fluoride, but it can be filtered out if it is too high.

What is fluorosis? Fluorosis is staining that occurs on the teeth from overexposure to fluoride as a child. It is not a disease and doesn’t affect tooth function. It is usually associated with naturally-occurring fluoride from well-water, for example.

If you have further questions about fluoride or would like to set an appointment with Drs. Drs. Nichols and Cicmanec, call our Sioux Falls, SD, office today.