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Exposing your teeth to regular doses of fluoride is a fantastic way to thwart tooth decay and infection. Why? It replenishes the weak parts of your tooth enamel. Your enamel is that white, hard, outermost layer that protects the rest of your teeth. When bacteria eat away at the enamel, fluoride can rebuild its defenses, like bricklayers repairing the walls of an ancient city.

In the 1960s, many communities voted to include fluoride in their water supplies to strengthen and protect the teeth of the public. Today, 29 of 30 of the U.S. largest cities fluoridate their water supply and about two thirds of the U.S. population overall has access to fluoridated public water.

If consumed in large quantities, fluoride can cause a condition called fluorosis in children. Symptoms include white streaks on the teeth, and in cases more severe, brown stains and broken enamel. For adults with fully developed teeth, fluorosis is not a relevant danger. Happily, for the health and safety of our children’s teeth, the Centers for Disease Control permits 0.7 milligrams of fluoride for every 1 liter of water. The agency guarantees that even when factoring in average exposure to other sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste, fluoride treatments or food sources, this level of exposure is helpful in both treating tooth decay and avoiding fluorosis.

If your teeth are prone to decay or if you have any questions about fluoride, you can call Dr. Alberto A. Herrero at Alberto A. Herrero, DDS in Ann Arbor, Michigan at 734-222-9140.