Sometimes called “nature’s cavity fighter,” fluoride is an essential component of good dental health. Let’s look at why it works.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally, and is found in some of the foods and drinks we consume. It aids our dental health by coating the surface of the teeth (the enamel), making them more resistant to acids that can cause tooth decay.
The enamel itself is composed of tiny and closely-packed mineral crystals that gain and lose minerals daily. Losing minerals is called demineralization and can be caused by the normally-occurring bacteria found in your mouth. These bacteria feed on sugary and carb-filled diets and in turn, produce acids that dissolve tooth enamel. When too much minerals are lost, tooth decay occurs.
When we consume fluoride it enters our bloodstream and tiny particles become part of our saliva that constantly rinses our teeth and aids in remineralization, or the adding back in of minerals. This is known as a “systemic benefit.” In addition to dietary fluoride, we also recommended using fluoride toothpaste and rinses to provide additional protection, or a “topical benefit.”
Much of our fluoride intake comes through our water. It is a naturally-found element in most rivers, lakes, and oceans. In addition, public water utilities add fluoride to the water sources.
Prior to fluoridation of our water sources, children were shown to have 3x the amount of cavities they do today. It can reduce the occurrence of tooth decay today by up to 25%.
Introduce Fluoride Into Your Daily Oral Care Routine
As a family dentist, we believe it’s never too young to start on a good dental routine. Teeth are susceptible to tooth decay from the moment they erupt, about the age of one. A small amount of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice should be used at this age. From ages 3-6, the size of toothpaste on the brush can be increased to a pea-sized amount. Try to keep your child from swallowing toothpaste in order to avoid fluorosis, or tiny white spots or pits on the teeth.
A standard routine includes brushing twice a day, morning and evening, and flossing daily. We also recommend using a dental rinse once or twice a day to introduce additional fluoride protection. Use this according to packaging directions.
Visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings will also help prevent tooth decay. And your dentist may offer an additional fluoride treatment while you’re in the office. This is applied directly to your teeth.
Fluoride supplements are also available by prescription and are usually offered to children living in areas where the water supply is not fluoridated.
Is There a Risk to Fluoride?
Fluoride levels are constantly checked at your water supply source, and prescription fluoride is closely monitored to reduce the chances of overdose. Toxic levels are measured in weight; in milligrams. A toxic dose, according to Colgate.com is 655 milligrams. Normal water-level fluoride is measured at 0.25 milligrams.
EverSmile Dentistry is your family dentist, taking care of your loved ones at any stage of life. We make it our goal to educate our patients about good dental care because we really don’t want to see you in here too often. Well, at least not for anything more than their regular cleaning and exam. Wouldn’t it be great if we only had to see our patients for cleanings, and not for cavities! Taking care of your teeth is a lifelong commitment, and one that will pay off in the long run.
When you need a family dentist in the Northern Virginia region, please contact EverSmile Dentistry.