Fluoride is a mineral that has been in the spotlight lately. From the newly updated levels of fluoride in drinking water to the necessity of fluoride in toothpaste, fluoride is a hot topic. (You can read THIS POST to sort the myths from the truths.) Regardless of the rumors surrounding fluoride, there are certain benefits to including fluoride in your dental care routine.
What is Fluoride?
Before you can fully understand the perks of fluoride, it helps to know a little bit about this mineral. Minerals are very important to our overall health, including tooth health. When acids eat away at the enamel of a tooth, that tooth loses minerals in a process called demineralization. However, through food, water intake, and supplements, minerals (including calcium, phosphate, and fluoride) can be added back to the enamel; this is called remineralization. Remineralization is important because it strengthens teeth and helps to restore them.
Fluoride helps teeth resist acid attacks
Knowing that fluoride is a mineral that can strengthen the enamel of a tooth, it shouldn’t be too surprising to learn that fluoride helps teeth resist the acidic assault from plaque. Remember that plaque leads to tooth decay.
Think of strong enamel as a well-fortified castle that can withstand an attack from the plaque. The plaque may attack, but they won’t necessarily gain entrance to cause destruction. A tooth without strong enamel is like a castle that left the front door open; all the invading plaque has no problem entering and causing problems.
Without the strength supplied by fluoride, the plaque has easier access to the tooth. Stronger enamel means less tooth decay.
Reverses early decay
An article from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research supplies us with some interesting facts: fluoride does not do more than just prevent decay. Fluoride can even reverse early decay. Because the fluoride can stall the bacteria’s ability to make acid, the cavity-creating process is halted.
Saves you money
Using fluoride-containing toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water can save you money in the long run. The cost of toothpaste with fluoride costs much less than the cost of treating a cavity – not to mention all the discomfort associated with tooth decay!
If you are a numbers person, consider this: the state of Colorado saved almost $150 million in dental treatments by providing fluorination.
While fluoride is undoubtedly beneficial in oral care, it is important to use fluorinated-products responsibly. New standards from the ADA encourage the use of fluoridated toothpaste as soon as a child’s first tooth emerges; the key, however, is to use a dot of toothpaste – the size of a grain of rice. For children 3-6 years of age, use a dollop about the size of a pea. Help your children to learn to spit out toothpaste instead of swallowing it.
How can your dentist help?
Fluoride is available in drinking water, but sometimes patients may need more than what is available in water sources or toothpaste. If your dentist decides you could benefit from additional fluoride, she or he may prescribe a fluoride gel or a fluoride tablet.
If you have questions about fluoride usage, contact us today.