You’ve probably heard your dentist boast about the importance of fluoride. However, while most are familiar with fluoride treatment, they don’t always know why it’s used. So, what does fluoride do for teeth?
Our experienced dentists explain what fluoride is and why it’s considered the best cavity fighter here.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is an ingredient in oral care products that helps prevent cavities and strengthen teeth. The mineral fluorine, from which fluoride is derived, exists in many different foods and is even added to community drinking water.
Fluoride wears many hats, as it not only fights harmful bacteria but it also protects your tooth enamel (thin outer covering) from acidic foods and drinks.
What Does Fluoride Do for Teeth?
Fluoride can be ingested or applied topically. Regardless, fluoride replenishes weak tooth enamel and helps eliminate harmful plaque.
Fluoride ingestion benefits the formation of new teeth in children seven and younger. When fluoride is ingested in small doses, it helps prevent acids from damaging the enamel of still-developing teeth. This means that as a child’s permanent teeth come in, they’ll be better protected as they age.
Additionally, too little fluoride can result in grooves, also known as fissures, in children’s teeth. The deeper the grooves, the easier it is for food particles to get stuck in hard-to-reach places. Shallower fissures mean fewer cavities and better oral hygiene.
When plaque piles up on the teeth, it can slowly eat away at your enamel. This process is called demineralization, and it makes your teeth susceptible to cavities if you regularly consume sugary foods and drinks.
Fluoride promotes remineralization, your teeth’s natural repair process.
During remineralization, your body uses calcium and phosphate minerals from your saliva to restore lost enamel. Topical fluoride products mix with saliva to coat and protect the enamel from destructive acids.
The remineralization process strengthens the teeth, slowing down or stopping early signs of tooth decay.
Why Is Fluoride Important?
Fluoride helps remove the harmful acids that attack your teeth and gums. Without it, your teeth and gums can become vulnerable to periodontal disease.
Here are a few ways to incorporate fluoride into your oral health routine:
Fluoride products - Fluoride is used in several over-the-counter toothpaste and mouthwash products. To prevent tooth decay, our dentists suggest brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Additionally, try limiting acidic, sugary, or overprocessed foods that could affect your teeth.
Fluoridated water - There may be trace amounts of fluoride in your drinking water or food. However, this usually isn’t enough to make much of an impact on your dental health.
Fluoride treatments - Professional fluoride treatment is typically recommended for patients prone to cavities or tooth decay. Either way, fluoride treatment contains concentrated amounts of fluoride and can be applied as a foam or varnish.
As a precaution, fluoride is safe in proper doses. Too much fluoride can be harmful, especially in young children. For this reason, our West Omaha dental office recommends supervising your child during toothbrushing.
Contact Our Dentists in West Omaha
Fluoride benefits your oral health routine by providing surefire protection from tooth decay. At Eagle Run West Dental Group, we may recommend fluoride treatment following your routine check-up and cleaning.