Fluoride: The Superhero for Your Teeth

Since an early age, we’ve been told to stay away from candy and other sweet indulgences because they could potentially ruin our teeth. As children, almost everyone went through the motions with tooth decay. In fact, according to an FDI survey, an estimated 3.9 billion people around the world have been affected by tooth decay. That’s almost about 44% of the entire world’s population! This has created a booming market for treatment products. Commercials and a variety of tooth products advocate for the elimination of tooth decay and promise a cavity-free mouth. All of these products have one thing in common: fluoride.

Fluoride, derived from the naturally occurring element fluorine, is a mineral that’s essential for building strong teeth and preventing the prevalence of tooth-decaying bacteria. The enamel (or the outer strong layer of the tooth) is prone to losing its crystals in a process called demineralization. This happens when bacteria in plaque gets accumulated on the tooth’s surface. Without proper oral cleansing, the bacteria eat away at the tooth minerals and cause tooth decay. Fluoride helps by strengthening the enamel from the negative impacts of outer acids or bacteria and replenishes the tooth with enough minerals to speed up the remineralization process.

Forms of Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride can be administered to help with oral health in two major ways: internally and externally.

Internal or systemic administration

Community Water Fluoridation:
In most cities, fluoride is dispensed into public water systems through a closely-supervised action plan in order to prevent tooth decay in the population. For massive communities, fluoride is typically added in the advised dosage (1 mg/L) to the drinking water supply.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), about ¾ of the public water supply in the United States is fluoridated. Although bottled water may not contain fluoride, make sure to drink fluoride water out of the tap. This is a cost-effective way to prevent dental caries.

Fluoride Supplements
In cases of non-fluoride water supply, individuals are recommended to take fluoride supplements. These supplements can be obtained only through prescription and can come in tablets, lozenges or drop forms. Supplements should only be made available for children six months to 16 years who are living without adequate amounts of fluoride in their drinking water.

Fluoride in water or supplements upon ingestion enters the bloodstream and is incorporated into growing teeth and the saliva. It helps by strengthening them from the inside and making them less vulnerable to acids and bacteria that could change the normal anatomy of the teeth. This form of systemic fluoride absorption helps children grow stronger teeth.
External or topical administration
Many dental products today contain fluoride in some capacity.

Fluoride Toothpaste:
Although most of the commercially popular tubes of toothpaste contain fluoride, there are some that don’t. It’s important to look for one with fluoride when going toothpaste shopping and make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day to get the best results.

Children younger than 3 years old should begin brushing their teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth by using a fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a dab.

For children ages, 3 to 6, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride Mouthwashes:
Rinsing your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash after you brush your teeth can enhance your teeth’s resistance to decay and help keep cavities away from you and your family.

Note: Children six years and under should not be given mouthwashes as their swallowing reflexes aren’t fully developed.

Other Fluoride Dental Products
Fluoride gels are available that can be applied by a dental professional. This procedure is done twice a year and will give you adequate protection from cavity-creating bacteria.

Some dental floss contains fluoride. Make sure to floss at least once a day.

Benefits of Fluoride
• Prevents tooth decay: Fluoride slows down demineralization, enhances remineralization, and promotes the prevention of tooth decay. It also helps keep the oral cavity healthy and strong and is shown to reduce tooth decay by 20 – 40%.

• Safe and effective: Fluoride is a biocompatible material and doesn’t cause health issues when taken in recommended doses. It’s especially effective in preventing dental issues in communities.
• Cost-effective: The cost of a single dental filling is more expensive than the average lifetime cost per person with access to a fluoride water supply. Fluoride products are also cheaper and work effectively in protecting against tooth decay and potential tooth loss.
• Natural product: Since fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, it appeals to people on a wider scale than would other artificially crafted products.

Maintain Your Oral Hygiene With Fluoride
Every adult and child has access to fluoride in some way. Make sure you and you’re taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family from tooth decay. Have you gotten your fluoride today?

If you haven’t had your bi-annual fluoride treatment, book an appointment at Vetter Dental online! We’d be happy to meet you and make sure your teeth stay clean, strong, and healthy.