Fluoride: What It Is and Key Benefits
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods, plants, drinks, and products. It helps prevent tooth decay and stimulates bone production. Tooth decay occurs when the tooth’s enamel breaks down due to acids. These acids are produced when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, builds upon the teeth.
Fortunately, fluoride may repair weak spots in tooth enamel before they become cavities and cause tooth decay. This mineral may also make teeth more resistant to acidic erosion and remineralize the teeth. Let’s take a look at the importance of incorporating fluoride into our oral health routine:
The Importance of Using Fluoride
Adding fluoride to your oral health routine is critical because it may help prevent and reverse gum disease. Gingivitis, a common form of gum disease, frequently develops due to poor oral hygiene habits, enabling harmful plaque to accumulate on your teeth. When this plaque remains on your teeth, it can lead to the development of tartar and bacteria along the gum line. As a result, your gums may become irritated and bleed. If gingivitis is left untreated, you may experience periodontitis, tooth decay, or even tooth loss.
Fortunately, fluoride may eliminate the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities and reinforce the protective layer of enamel surrounding your teeth. Fluoride is especially beneficial for children who are at high risk for tooth decay.
Common Sources of Fluoride
One of the primary sources of fluoride intake is drinking water. Although fluoride is found naturally in water sources, it has also been added to the public water supply to promote healthy teeth for the last 75 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that drinking fluoridated water lowers cavities by 25% in children and adults. In fact, the following organizations recommend community water fluoridation:
- The American Dental Association
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- US Public Health Service
- World Health Organization
Due to its ability to reduce cavities, the CDC listed community water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Toothpaste and Mouthrinse
Numerous kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash provide fluoride in their products. Using these products correctly and brushing twice a day can significantly improve your oral health.
Fluoride supplements are available by prescription-only and in tablet, drop, or lozenge forms. However, they are only recommended for children six months to 16 years who live in communities without adequate levels of fluoride in their drinking water.
Professional Dental Products
When visiting your dentist, they can administer a professional application of fluoride in the form of a gel, foam, or rinse. These forms of fluoride are considerably more concentrated than the fluoride in toothpaste, which is why they are not needed as frequently.
Fluoride Side Effects
One potential side effect of fluoride is known as dental fluorosis. This condition is characterized by white spots on the surface of your teeth, which occurs from using too much fluoride while your teeth are still forming. Although dental fluorosis has cosmetic effects, the condition does not cause your teeth harm.
To prevent the development of dental fluorosis:
- Use fluoride toothpaste only twice a day
- For children younger than three, use no more than a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
- For children three to six years old, only use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Always supervise your child when they brush to make sure they use the right amount of toothpaste and to encourage them to spit it all out when they are finished
Get Fluoride Treatment at Abra Dental
Fluoride treatment is a safe and effective method to enhance your oral health that both children and adults can benefit from. At Abra Dental, our fluoride treatment is the key final step in our dental cleaning process. Our fluoride treatments are foamy and inserted into a mouthpiece that is placed over your teeth for just one minute.
If you are interested in bringing in your child for a dental cleaning or would like to talk to one of our dentists about fluoride, make an appointment at Abra Dental today.