Have Questions About Fluoride?
Read On To Get the Facts On Fluoride!
What Is Fluoride?
Like Dan, most patients who come into my office aren’t really sure what fluoride is. Fluoride is a natural element. Fluoride is in soil, fresh water, salt water, and rocks. Fluoride has been added to many dental hygiene products, including toothpastes, mouth rinses, and health drinks. Your dentist can administer fluoride through professional fluoride treatments. In the United States, and in many other parts of the world, tap water is fluoridated to help prevent tooth decay in whole communities.
What Does Fluoride Do?
You’ll remember that enamel is the hard outer surface of your tooth. Enamel protects your tooth from infection and decay. Fluoride can work with your tooth’s enamel in two ways to make your teeth healthier.
We know that acid on the surface of your tooth causes demineralization, breaking down the enamel of your tooth. Fluoride has the ability to protect enamel from demineralization. Fluoride contains calcium and phosphate which neutralize acid and prevent demineralization.
If your enamel has already been compromised by demineralization, fluoride can still be beneficial for you. Fluoride will gather in demineralized areas of your teeth. The calcium and phosphate that protect your enamel will actually help repair weakened enamel through the process of remineralization. If your enamel has already been weakened to the point of forming a cavity, however, fluoride will not be sufficient to repair your tooth—you’ll need to visit a dentist and have the cavity filled.
You’re already probably ingesting enough fluoride in your daily diet of food and water. You may already be using dental hygiene products with fluoride as well, especially toothpaste and mouth rinse. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough fluoride you can talk to your dentist about possible in-office fluoride treatments.
Remember that children benefit from fluoride too. However, children under the age of two years old should not use toothpaste with fluoride because they are likely to ingest it and fluoride can darken permanent teeth in young children. Children under the age of seven years old should not use fluoridated toothpaste without the supervision of an adult, to ensure that they do not ingest too much of the toothpaste.
If you’re interested in learning more about fluoride, or you’d just like to discuss some concerns about your oral health with a dentist, click here to schedule a free consultation.
Look for next week’s newsletter when we’ll begin to talk about orthodontics!
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