***UPDATED: May 10, 2013*** The issue of fluoride, specifically of fluoridating public water sources, has been a hot topic in recent years. Despite nearly 50 years of research showing the oral health benefits of the mineral, controversy exists as to whether the additive is helpful or hurtful to the American public. Recently, new evidence has been discovered that further demonstrates how helpful fluoride can be. In addition to strengthening the protective enamel on a tooth’s surface, reports indicate that fluoride also influences the adhesion of bacteria to teeth, making it more difficult for the cavity-causing stuff to stick to teeth. For more information on the latest research, check out this Medical News Today article.
It is common knowledge that everyone should brush their teeth at least twice a day in addition to flossing and visiting your dentist semi-annually, to fight cavities and maintain good oral hygiene. The use of fluoride to assist in this routine has recently come under fire though, as many believe that adding it to drinking water is not beneficial. However, a recent study out of Sweden may change a few minds. The Science Daily article, “Brushing Teeth: New ‘Massage Method’ Quadruples Protection Against Tooth Decay, Study Suggests,” discusses not only the method in which fluoride can be delivered, but also the benefits of the mineral.
Approximately eight years ago, a new type of toothpaste was introduced in Sweden and has recently been scientifically evaluated for the first time. The new product boasts three times as much fluoride as standard toothpastes and is available without prescription. A research team at the University of Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy has studied 16 volunteers, all of which used a variety of brushing techniques, both the standard and “high-fluoride” toothpastes, and brushed two or three times daily. One of the more striking finds in the study was that those who used the high-fluoride toothpaste three times a day had four times better fluoride protection than those who only brushed twice daily with the standard paste, suggesting not only that the increase in fluoride was helpful, but that the additional brushing was also key.
Also included in the study was the testing of a new method of brushing that involves rubbing toothpaste onto teeth and gums with a finger. It was found that this “massage method” was just as effective as a third fluoride application using a toothbrush. Anna Nordström, a researcher from the Institute of Odontology at the Sahlgrenska Academy, suggests that this method may be useful for giving your teeth a quick and easy extra “shot” of fluoride during the day. She warns that massaging should not replace brushing, however, that it’s simply a convenient way to add an extra treatment. Studies continue to show that fluoride has, and should continue to play, a major role in the fight against tooth decay. If you are at high risk for tooth decay, it is often recommended that you use high-fluoride toothpaste, and talk to your dentist about additional fluoride procedures that may help to further protect your teeth.