Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to help strengthen tooth enamel and fend off decay and cavities. Our general dentists provide fluoride treatments for patients to ensure their teeth stay strong and healthy.
There are many benefits to fluoride:
- Strengthens enamel on baby teeth and adult teeth
- Hardens bone in teeth that have not yet emerged
- Reverses effects of mild tooth decay
- Prevents the growth of bacteria on tooth surface
How does fluoride work?
Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth and it is one of the strongest parts of your body! It’s made up of calcium and phosphate and works to protect the sensitive inner workings of your teeth. But as strong as it is, things we do in our daily lives can weaken it. Foods and drinks we eat can strip away the enamel, leaving you vulnerable to decay and cavities.
Your saliva naturally contains the calcium and phosphate that is needed to build back up your enamel, and when that saliva is also packed with fluoride, it creates a powerful defense against decay. Teeth that receive the right amount of fluoride are stronger and more resistant to decay.
Where does fluoride come from?
There are several places you can find fluoride:
- Community water systems (meaning the water that comes from your tap)
- Mouth rinses
- Your dentist!
Most community water systems contain fluoride. The Centers for Disease Control offer this system for you to know if your water contains fluoride. Drinking water is an excellent way to get a fluoride boost, but not all water contains it. Many bottled waters do not.
When choosing a toothpaste for you and your older children (those who can brush and spit on their own), be sure you look for one that has the American Dental Association seal on it. This will tell you that the toothpaste has been tested and contains the right amount of fluoride to ensure your teeth are protected. Brush twice daily.
Ask one of our dentists if you or your children could benefit from additional fluoride. Our dentists can recommend what fluoride is best – it could come in a gel, foam or varnish that can be applied right in our office. For children, it is often recommended that children receive a fluoride treatment at each six month appointment. However, we always tailor treatment to meet the individual needs of our patients, so we may recommend fluoride application more or less frequently, depending on the patient’s needs.
Fluoride treatments are a routine part of general dentistry because they are an important component in prevention and health. It is important to discuss fluoride intake with our dental experts because too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing.
Too much fluoride can result in what is known as dental fluorosis. This can cause cosmetic problems, typically white spots, on the teeth. You won’t experience any negative health consequences, but it can leave unsightly white spots on the teeth. Dental fluorosis typically occurs in children when too much fluoride accumulates under the gums and penetrates the still developing permanent teeth in the gums. Always speak to one of our dental experts before adding extra fluoride to your child’s dental routine.