A Word From Dental Hygienist Natalie: Benefits of Fluoride
Fluorine (from which fluoride is derived) is actually a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods, water and in the air.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It also has the ability to reverse early decay areas.
Each day, minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer through two processes: demineralization and remineralization. Minerals are lost from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids, formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth, attack the enamel. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are then redeposited to the enamel layer from the foods and water we consume. Too much demineralization without enough remineralization to repair the enamel layer will eventually lead to tooth decay.
Children and adults who are at low risk of dental decay can stay cavity-free through frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride. New research indicates that topical fluoride, from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and in-office fluoride treatments, are as important in fighting tooth decay as in strengthening developing teeth. Fluoride supplements are also available as liquids or tablets but must be prescribed by your dentist.
The following are certain conditions that may offer an increased risk of tooth decay and would therefore benefit from additional fluoride treatment:
- Dry mouth conditions
- Gum disease – Also called gingivitis, gum disease can expose more of your tooth and tooth roots to bacteria increasing the chance of tooth decay
- History of frequent cavities
- Presence of crowns and/or bridges or braces
If you have more questions about fluoride, feel free to ask me during your next visit to the office!