Fluoride has a big reputation for helping fight dental cavities. For this reason, it’s found in many toothpastes, mouthwashes, professional dental treatments and most city water supplies. How does it work? Let’s talk about 5 ways fluoride helps dental health and so you can make sure you’re getting the right amount.
1. Fluoride Helps Strengthen Growing Teeth
It’s especially important for children to get an adequate amount of fluoride. When a child eats or drinks food, water or supplements containing fluoride, the fluoride enters their bloodstream and becomes part of their growing teeth, which can strengthen them against cavities from the inside out.
If you’re wanting to ensure that your child gets the right amount of fluoride, talk to your dentist about safe ways to add it to their diet. Toothpastes and mouthwashes are only meant to treat teeth with fluoride from the outside and are not meant to be swallowed, but your dentist may recommend a fluoride supplement that your child can take like a vitamin if your child is not getting enough from other sources.
2. Fluoride Helps Fight Demineralization
If you’re already an adult or all of your permanent teeth have already come in, there are still many ways fluoride helps dental health when applied to the outside of your teeth. One of these is by helping to fight demineralization of teeth. When sugar or carbohydrates are consumed, they can react with the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth to make your saliva more acidic. When your saliva is acidic, it can erode your teeth of necessary minerals and cause tooth decay or cavities. Fluoride helps to strengthen the outer layer of your teeth and make it more resilient against demineralization and damage.
3. Fluoride Helps to Remineralize Enamel
Fluoride can also help with remineralization of the outer layer or enamel of your teeth. Fluoride can help to restore the calcium and phosphate ions that your teeth need to stay healthy and protected. Regular remineralization is important because demineralization occurs daily and if the minerals are not replenished at the same rate they are lost, then your teeth may become weakened and less resistant to decay.
4. Fluoride Has Been Shown to Reduce Cavities
Studies have been done on the rate of cavities occurring in children who live in areas where fluoride naturally occurs at high levels or has been added to the water supply and cavities are shown to be greatly reduced in relation to the level of fluoride consumed. That’s why dentists constantly encourage both adults and children to get enough fluoride!
5. Fluoride Protects Against Sensitivity
One of the lesser known ways fluoride helps dental health is by reducing tooth sensitivity. When teeth are missing vital nutrients or start to become soft from the early stages of tooth decay, it can lead to increased sensitivity. Fluoride helps to harden and replenish teeth of necessary minerals, making them more resistant to cavities and sensitivity.
If you’re wondering if you or your family are getting the right amount of fluoride, talk to your dentist and ask about how fluoride can be best incorporated into your routine and diet to achieve the optimum levels of fluoride for each family member’s age and personal fluoride needs.
Call our Gilbert, Mesa or San Tan Valley dental offices to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.