Fluoride is well-known for its ability to strengthen your teeth and protect against dental cavities. This is why it's in your drinking water and just about every type of toothpaste and mouthwash on the market. You can even get professional fluoride treatments from your dentist. While fluoride is certainly beneficial for strengthening your teeth, it does have some potential side effects. Before asking your dentist to give you a fluoride treatment, talk about all the risks with him. Sometimes just sticking to your regular fluoride-containing toothpaste is a safer option.

How It Works

Your teeth is made up of compressed minerals, making them very hard structures. Calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are just some of the minerals in your teeth. Fluoride works by helping these naturally-occurring minerals in your teeth re-structure. Through a series of chemical reactions, fluoride helps minerals move and relocate to the tooth's surface. This "remineralisation" process improves the integrity of your teeth and helps your chompers ward off attacks from cavity-causing bacteria.

Professional Fluoride Treatments

Usually, fluoride treatments are more common for young children. It's something they get when their adult teeth are all in place. But as an adult, fluoride treatments can be beneficial if you're prone to getting cavities or have abnormally weak teeth. These treatments can also help if you have overly sensitive teeth that cause shooting pain with hot or cold foods and drinks. Your dentist like the one from East Gate Dental Center is the only one who can administer these prescription-strength types of fluoride, though. He or she will simply apply the formula onto your teeth and give it time to set in, before letting you rinse.

Potential Side Effects

Fluoride has been linked with tissue damage if you have too much. You're not likely to get an excessive amount from your drinking water, but it could become a problem if you regularly swallow your toothpaste. High fluoride levels could possibly lead to a weak immune system, increased risk of allergic reactions, skin irritations, thyroid problems and chronic diseases -- including kidney issues. However, research is still inconclusive as to whether or not fluoride is the real culprit of these issues.

Even prescription-strength dental treatments can cause problems in some cases -- this is why they have to be overseen by a dental professional. Dental fluoride treatments may aggravate your gums if you have gingivitis or periodontal disease. They can also cause nausea and vomiting, although these side effects are very rare. If you have any type of chronic condition or suffer from gum disease, getting your fluoride through plain old toothpaste might be safer than higher-strength fluoride treatments.