Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations. Fluoride helps to harden the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. It also helps to repair early damage to the enamel, before it becomes visible. For these reasons, fluoride is an important part of any preventive dental care plan. Many dentists recommend that patients use a fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouth rinse, in addition to receiving fluoride treatments at their office. By taking advantage of all the available fluoride solutions, you can dramatically reduce your risk of developing cavities and other problems with your teeth.
How Fluoride Works
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride from using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups. This is a preventive measure taken to avoid future cavities. Fluoride treatment is most effective when it is part of a comprehensive program that includes good oral hygiene, a balanced diet, and regular dental check-ups.
Systemic fluoride is a very important part of keeping your teeth healthy. Fluoride strengthens the teeth that have already erupted, as well as those that are still developing under the gums. Systemic fluoride is found in most foods and in community water supplies. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form, and can be prescribed by your dentist or physician. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. It is very important to monitor the amounts of fluoride a child ingests. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are still developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result. Fluoride is an important part of preventive dental care, and can help keep your teeth healthy for a lifetime.
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit Fox Valley Family Dentistry on a regular basis.