You might think of fluoride as something that’s added to toothpaste, but did you know that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral? Fluoride is a chemical ion of fluorine, one of the chemicals on the periodic table of elements, and it can be found in water, soil, and rocks.
Fluoride is frequently referred to as nature’s cavity fighter, and that’s just one reason
Dr. Samantha Ben-Ezra, Dr. Shebani Pahwa, and Dr. Maham Siddiqui include fluoride treatments as part of our preventive services available at SPA Dental Group.
Fluoride strengthens your enamel
Your enamel is the tough exterior of your teeth, and it’s the hardest tissue in your body. It may be the strongest material in your body, but it’s not unbreakable. Acidic foods and drinks, soft drinks, gastrointestinal disorders, medications, and wear and tear can contribute to enamel erosion. Fluoride helps remineralize your tooth enamel by speeding up the growth of the new enamel surface by combining calcium and phosphate ions together. Fluoride is also incorporated into the remineralized surface.
Fluoride helps prevent cavities
When your enamel is weakened, your chance of developing a cavity increases. That’s because acid-producing bacteria can easily eat away at the weakened tooth enamel. It’s harder for bacteria to damage teeth with fortified, strong enamel. Fluoride plays an important role when it comes to dental health: it doesn’t just strengthen your enamel, but it also helps prevent cavities in both children and adults. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, the fluoride comes into direct contact with your teeth. This is referred to as a "topical" benefit of fluoride, and it helps to prevent cavities by strengthening your enamel.
Fluoride and your saliva
When you drink water with fluoride, your saliva absorbs some of the fluoride. When your saliva coats your teeth, you continue to get a bit of fluoride delivered to your teeth. This, too, helps to rebuild any weakened tooth enamel.
How can you get more fluoride?
Fluoride strengthens your enamel and helps prevent tooth decay, but how do you get fluoride? There are many ways you can consume fluoride:
- Using a fluoride toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance
- Using mouthwash with fluoride
- Taking prescription fluoride supplements
- Receiving a fluoride treatment during your routine dental exam and cleaning
You can also consume fluoride via drinking water. Most towns and cities add fluoride to the public drinking water to help prevent widespread tooth decay. Prior to community water fluoridation, children were diagnosed with about three times as many cavities. To date, community water fluoridation continues to cut tooth decay by at least 25%.
How much fluoride do you need?
When it comes to brushing, it’s important to use the right amount of toothpaste. For children three years or younger, you can begin to brush your child’s pearly whites as soon as they emerge. Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). For children between three to six-years-old, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Ideally, brush your teeth (and your child’s teeth) twice a day for a full two minutes. Some individuals may benefit from additional supplements, such as a prescription fluoride-containing mouthwash. We can review your fluoride needs during your dental exam.
To learn more about fluoride treatments or to schedule a cleaning, call the location of your choice today or request your appointment online. We serve both the New York City, New York, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas.