WE DENTISTS MAKE a pretty big deal about fluoride and how good it is for your teeth. Truly, fluoride is the best cavity fighter out there, helping our teeth stay healthy and strong! But how exactly does fluoride do such an awesome job at keeping our mouths cavity-free?
Fluoride Prevents And Repairs Tooth Decay
Bacteria that are in plaque produce acids that seep into tooth enamel and break it down. This process of breaking down enamel is what causes cavities over time. Where plaque breaks down the tooth, fluoride builds it up!
Fluoride, a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water, protects teeth from cavity-causing bacteria by making tooth enamel more resistant to bacteria’s acid attacks.
Fluoride also helps repair tooth decay in its early stages by building up the tooth in a process called remineralisation. This cavity-fighting mineral even reduces the ability of plaque bacteria to produce acid in the first place!
Fluoride Is Available In A Variety Of Forms
Fluoride can be directly applied to the teeth through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. In fact, toothpaste with fluoride has been responsible for a significant drop in cavities since the 1970’s.
Dental practices also offer fluoride application to teeth as a gel, foam or varnish. Getting a fluoride treatment periodically is important because it contains a higher concentration of fluoride.
The benefits of fluoride has led to it being added to tap water in some areas, many years of evidence show it to be safe and effective. Not all areas of the country have fluoridated water, here in the Kent there is no fluoride in our tap water. Health officials would like to see fluoridation cover much more of the country.
Fluoride Intake Is Important At All Ages
Exposure to fluoride can be especially beneficial for infants and children. Between the ages of six months and 16 years, fluoride becomes incorporated into the developing permanent teeth, protecting them from cavity-causing bacteria.
However, adults and children alike need to get enough fluoride to protect their teeth. Just as important as strengthening developing teeth is fighting tooth decay, which fluoride will help you do even after your permanent teeth have come in.
Increased exposure to fluoride can be beneficial for people with certain health conditions. For example, if you have dry mouth, gum disease or a history of frequent cavities, your dentist may recommend additional fluoride treatments or supplements. For children at high risk of tooth decay we recommend an application of fluoride varnish every 3 months. Ask us if you or your child could benefit from additional fluoride.
Tooth Decay Is Preventable
The take home message is this: fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. If you have any questions about fluoride, comment below or ask at your next visit! We would love to hear from you! We love our patients and their smiles!
Top image by Flickr user bradfordst219 used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health care professionals with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.