Fluoride is a common mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources that is also beneficial to our teeth! Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in children and adults and can even help repair early stages of tooth decay. That means that before decay is visible or noticeable, the fluoride in your water, toothpaste, and mouthwash may be working to correct it. Fluoride is a fantastic cavity fighter that helps keep your teeth healthy and strong.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is found throughout the earth’s crust, water, and some foods. It’s a natural, effective, and simple means of preventing tooth decay.
Researchers first realized back in the 1930s that people raised in areas with naturally fluoridated water experienced up to two-thirds fewer cavities than people who grew up in areas without fluoridated water. Since then, studies have shown time and again that when fluoride is added to drinking water in a community, tooth decay decreases throughout the population. In response to this wealth of research, The American Dental Association, the World Health Organization, and the American Medical Association, as well as many others, have endorsed introducing fluoride into water supplies.
How Does Fluoride Work?
There are two ways in which fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay. In children, fluoride helps to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they emerge by concentrating in their growing bones and teeth. In adults, fluoride helps to harden the enamel on teeth that are already apparent in your smile. At any age over 2, fluoride is hard at work preventing cavities.
During a naturally occurring process called remineralization, your saliva replenishes calcium and phosphorous under the surface of your teeth. This happens in a cycle, in tandem with something called demineralization. During demineralization, your saliva becomes more acidic, and calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface are dissolved. With the aid of fluoride, the minerals deposited during your remineralization process are harder than they would be otherwise. With fluoride, your teeth are strengthened, and further dissolution is prevented during your next demineralization phase.
Am I Getting Enough Fluoride?
Adults and children with healthy teeth and low risk of decay usually get enough fluoride from fluoridated water and brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. If the water in your community is not fluoridated and contains less than 1 part per million naturally occurring fluoride, then we may prescribe supplements such as fluoride tablets or drops taken daily. We at Weekend Dentistry will happily assess how much fluoride is right for you.
If you’re not sure about the fluoride content of your current public water supply, you can find out by calling your local water district. If you get your water from a private well, you can always have it analyzed by an independent testing company that provides water-testing services.
Call our San Antonio, TX office at (210) 783-0944 to schedule your regular dental exam and inquire about the health and strength of your enamel. We can then give recommendations to ensure you’re getting the perfect amount of fluoride for your oral health.