Just the Facts on Fluoride, Ma’am

shutterstock_70160905Fluoride has a great reputation. People think it’s the Superman of dental care. That’s why you can find fluoride in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and other dental products. Most municipalities add fluoride to the water supply to help fight tooth decay. It’s pretty much everywhere.

Since your friends at Gentle Dental are all about preventive measures like fluoride, here’s some background on this dental all-star.

Fluoride and the city

The first city to add fluoride to its drinking water was Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945. That city was intended to be a study that was to last 15 years. But results started to show themselves pretty clearly, and after 11 years the study was deemed an overwhelming success and concluded. How successful? The rate of Grand Rapids children who had developed cavities had dropped by 60% over the course of those 11 years!

What is fluoride and how does it protect the teeth?

To understand how fluoride works in your mouth you have to picture your mouth being like a mine. Every day minerals are coming and going. Minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer through two processes, demineralization and remineralization. Remineralization is good; demineralization is the problem. Minerals are lost from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids, formed from the bacteria in plaque and sugars in the mouth, attack the enamel. Fortunately, when you eat foods and drink water, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate remineralize the teeth. Therein lies the ongoing battle — too much demineralization without remineralization results in tooth decay.

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. It helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to those acids from bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride also has the cool effect of reversing early cases of decay. For kids under 6, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. This makes the teeth resistant to the assault of acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also speeds remineralization and disrupts acid production in the mouth.

When is fluoride the most beneficial?

It was thought that only children benefit from fluoride, but new research shows that topical fluoride from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments are important to help adult teeth fight decay. At Gentle Dental, we usually give all children between 6 months and 16 years fluoride gel treatments, as fluoride has been proven to help build teeth in these ages.

Fluoride treatments at Gentle Dental

So, now you know that fluoride is one of your mouth’s best friends. As a family dentistry, we view fluoride as critical to the dental health of our young patients. We provide fluoride varnish at Gentle Dental to give our patients a more concentrated occasional fluoride application. Call us at 732-549-5660 and set up your appointment.

Posted in: Dental Care

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