Fluoride is a compound found in many toothpaste and mouthwash products available now. It’s also commonly added to public water supplies because of its benefits to oral health. Dr. Pamela Cain is a dentist in Knoxville, TN dedicated to helping patients maintain their healthy smiles. Learn more about fluoride’s strengthening effects and how you can use its benefits to your advantage.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral whose chemical properties allow it to strengthen tooth enamel. Our teeth are hard on the outside thanks to our enamel, and fluoride makes sure the sensitive tissues inside the teeth are protected. Fluoride is often called “nature’s cavity fighter” because of its natural ability to restore weakened enamel and prevent cavities.
How Does Fluoride Work?
Our bodies cannot make fluoride, so we can only get its benefits from drinking water, where it is found naturally in all water sources. We can also get it from topical sources such as toothpaste or mouthwash containing fluoride.
Tooth enamel absorbs fluoride, where it helps the teeth replace the phosphorus and calcium that make the enamel hard. This process is called remineralization, and it requires fluoride present to act as a mediator for the calcium and phosphorus.
Why Kids May Need Fluoride Treatments
In children, fluoride works beneath the gum line before teeth have erupted to ensure they develop properly. As children are still learning good oral hygiene, their dentist may recommend a topical treatment such as an at-home gel or an in-office fluoride varnish to ensure they are maximizing fluoride’s benefits.
Keep Enamel Strong At All Ages
Adults need fluoride, too. Many public water supplies have fluoride added to them, and most toothpaste and mouthwash has added fluoride. Combining topical treatments with consuming fluoride keeps teeth strong and provides large scale dental care cost savings across communities.
Don’t forget to schedule your regular dental exams and maintain good oral hygiene. Fluoride treatments are just one of the many ways you can keep your teeth healthy for the rest of your life.