At Gentle Dental, we are big fans of fluoride. Now, this can sound kind of like being president of the chess club. What’s different from fluoride adoration and having the periodic table on your bedroom wall? But there’s a reason we’re fond of this chemical ion of the element fluorine — it’s the ultimate defender of the teeth!
Fluoride applications are a part of every appointment with our younger patients at Gentle Dental. This is because fluoride strengthens their teeth during their cavity-prone teenage years. We can also provide fluoride treatments for adults upon request.
Your enamel loves minerals, too
Enamel is the outer layer of the visible portion of our teeth. It provides protection, not unlike GoreTex when we have one of our famous New Jersey sleet storms! Enamel is made of closely packed crystals, and it deters bacteria from damaging your teeth. Every day all day, the enamel loses and gains minerals in processes called demineralization and remineralization, respectively.
Demineralization occurs thanks to bacteria. While there are good bacteria, such as in our gut, bacteria on our teeth live in the plaque that coats them (until we brush it away morning and night). Bacteria feed on sugar and other carbohydrates in our mouth, and they produce acids as a byproduct. These acids dissolve crystals in our tooth enamel — demineralization. In most cases, these losses are counterbalanced by remineralization, where minerals in the saliva, such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate, are deposited back into the enamel. If you have more loss than gain, that equals tooth decay.
How does fluoride act like an enforcer?
Fluoride plays the role of tooth enamel enforcer, but it doesn’t eat as much pasta. When children eat or drink fluoride in small doses, it enters the bloodstream and becomes part of their teeth. Swallowed fluoride also can enter the teeth from the outside through the saliva. When teeth are being defended by fluoride, they are far less susceptible to damage from acids created by bacteria.
In addition to ingesting fluoride in water and such, we apply fluoride directly to the teeth in fluoride-containing toothpaste, rinses, and the like. Plus, dentists such as the Gentle Dental team provide fluoride treatments. Fluoride applied to the outside of the teeth helps to speed remineralization. These treatments applied in our office are strong enough to disrupt the production of acids by bacteria.
Unbeknownst to most people, fluoride occurs naturally in water and some foods. Most municipalities add small amounts of fluoride to the water supply to help young teeth. In the nut job cities that don’t fluoridate their water because they think it is some communist conspiracy, fluoride can be purchased as a supplement. These misperceptions fostered by ignorance are unfortunate, as fluoride is thoroughly proven to help prevent decay in children’s teeth.
If your children are between the ages of six months and 16 years old, we’ll provide fluoride treatments to strengthen their enamel and help prevent decay while their teeth are developing.
Now you know why we have posters of fluoride in our rooms. OK, maybe not. But now you know why the Gentle Dental team idolizes fluoride. Call us at (732) 549-5660 to schedule your next cleaning and exam.