Why is there such an emphasis on fluoride? Dentists recommend it, toothpaste is formulated with it, and a significant amount of our drinking water contains it. What makes this mineral so highly regarded by dental professionals? Here are three compelling reasons why fluoride is a smart choice for promoting healthier teeth.
1. Fluoride Works! Fluoride proves to be an excellent option for safeguarding your teeth. It acts on a molecular level to attract minerals that reinforce enamel and help prevent cavities.
The majority of our tooth enamel consists of calcium and phosphate ions, forming hydroxyapatite crystals that make up about 95% of enamel. This robust substance, however, faces challenges from acids produced by plaque bacteria and dietary acids. These acids strip away calcium and phosphate ions through a process known as demineralization. Over time, weak spots develop, allowing acids to penetrate enamel and cause decay and cavities.
What does fluoride do?
Fluoride assists in remineralizing tooth enamel by bonding with its minerals and attracting calcium and phosphate ions from saliva to restore lost minerals. This process repairs weak spots that may have started forming.
Moreover, fluoride enhances tooth strength by forming fluorapatite crystals with calcium and phosphate ions. These crystals are larger and more robust than hydroxyapatite crystals.
Additionally, fluoride may disrupt the ability of bacterial plaque to produce acids, a major contributor to gum disease. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste proves effective in preventing plaque buildup around and below the gum line, which can lead to gum irritation, inflammation, and infection.
2. Fluoride Is Doubly Effective Fluoride provides benefits both externally and internally. Topically, fluoride applications help maintain strong teeth. Fluoride in our diets offers systemic advantages.
While fluoride is not abundant in many foods, it is naturally found in water sources like lakes and rivers. Communities with low fluoride levels often add it to the water, a safe practice that has been studied for decades and shown to reduce cavity risk by 25% or more for both children and adults.
Systemic fluoride is especially crucial for children’s dental health as it integrates with minerals during tooth development, creating stronger, more cavity-resistant teeth even before eruption. If your community lacks fluoridated water, discuss alternative options with your child’s dentist.
Adults also benefit from systemic fluoride. Consuming fluoridated water elevates the fluoride level in saliva. Similar to fluoride toothpaste, saliva helps strengthen tooth surfaces and neutralize acids that harm teeth and gums.
3. It’s Easy to Get Fluoride Protection Most toothpaste formulations include fluoride, ensuring you receive enamel-strengthening benefits with every brush, ideally twice daily. For young children who may struggle with rinsing and spitting, consult Dr. Sindledecker and Dr. Saltz on introducing small amounts of fluoride toothpaste to their routine.
Since a considerable amount of our drinking water is fluoridated, most individuals don’t need to worry about meeting the recommended daily fluoride intake. For communities with low fluoride levels, various options such as prescription fluoride rinses, gels, supplements, and treatments are available to ensure optimal protection. During your next visit to our Boca Raton dental office, we can guide you on the best products and usage frequency.
While fluoride isn’t the sole factor in dental health, it plays a crucial role. Proper brushing and flossing are essential for plaque removal. Consider sealants for long-lasting protection on chewing surfaces for both kids and adults. Fluoride, as a proven cavity-fighter and plaque-reducer, stands out for its simplicity, effectiveness, and widespread availability. It’s no wonder we’re enthusiastic proponents of fluoride!