Fluoride is naturally occurring mineral found in the soil, water, some foods and minerals like fluorite and fluorapatite. It is often added to drinking water to help reduce tooth decay. According to some statistics, those who grow up drinking fluoride rich water have fewer cases of tooth decay compared to those who grew up drinking water with little or no fluoride. Sea water contains 1.3 parts per million of fluoride, while fresh water has between 0.01 to 0.3 ppm, however, in some parts of the world, the water levels of this mineral are dangerously high. In addition to occurring naturally, fluoride can also be synthesized in laboratories then added to drinking water, mouthwash, toothpaste, and other substances.
How is Fluoride Made Available to Us?
Fluoride is added to water, or can be applied directly to the teeth through fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash products. Your dental health practitioner can apply fluoride to the teeth as a gel, varnish or foam; this fluoride treatment has a much higher level of fluoride than what is found in toothpaste. You can also get fluoride treatment in the form of tablets or liquids, but your dentist or pediatrician must prescribe this. How Does Fluoride Work?
This mineral works in the following ways:
– It protects the teeth from demineralization caused by bacteria in the mouth. When the bacteria in your mouth combines with sugar, it produces acid that damages the enamel. Fluoride protects the teeth from this damage.
– It accumulates in and re-mineralizes the areas of the teeth that have been damaged during the demineralization process.
– It concentrates in the growing bones of children’s developing teeth, therefore, hardening the enamel on baby teeth before they emerge. It also hardens adult teeth after emerging. Why do I Need Fluoride Treatments?
Many people assume that fluoride treatments are only meant for children whose teeth are still growing, however, adults need this too! Your dentist or dental hygienist routinely apply a fluoride treatment when they clean your teeth.
Here are other situations where fluoride treatment can be helpful:
– When taking some medication, you can develop dry mouth as a side effect of reduced saliva in the mouth. This increases the risk of cavity development, hence increases the need for fluoride treatment.
– Those with receding gums also require the treatment because part of the root of the teeth is exposed. Since this part of the tooth is very soft and sensitive, they are susceptible to damage. Fluoride treatments can help harden them and make them stronger.
– Many times after undergoing the application of a crown bridge, fluoride treatment is used to treat the teeth attached to the bridge. This helps protect that sensitive area.
– Often those wearing dental braces find it difficult to maintain good dental health. Such patients use fluoride treatments to decrease opportunity for cavities to occur.
– Those who have recently had tooth restoration due to tooth decay are at high risk of developing cavities hence the need for this treatment. Those prone to cavity development should also consider fluoride treatment.
– Eating a diet high in acid or regular use of teeth whitening products can weaken tooth enamel. Fluoride treatment can be used to help protect the enamel from wearing out. This can reduce tooth sensitivity and keep teeth healthy.
– Cancer patients who have undergone radiotherapy need this treatment since the radiation damages the saliva glands. With little saliva to protect the teeth, fluoride is very helpful to protect your teeth.
When is Fluoride Most Necessary?
It is most critical to take fluoride the ages of 6 months to 16 years when the primary and permanent teeth are developing. Adults too need fluoride hence its inclusion in water, mouth rinses and toothpaste. Those at high risk of tooth decay and need fluoride treatment includes those with: snacking habits, poor dental hygiene, limited access to a dentist, high carbohydrate and sugar diets, a history of tooth decay and those who have undergone restoration procedures like braces, crowns, and bridges.
How to Know if You are Getting Enough Fluoride:
– If you are at a low risk for tooth decay, then drinking fluoridated water and brushing with fluoride toothpaste is sufficient. – If you do not have fluoride in your water, talk to your dentist about the need for fluoride supplements – Call your local water district to confirm if the water is fluoridated and at what concentration. If it comes from a private well, then have it analyzed by a company that carries out water testing so that you will know how to proceed.
Fluoride is a very useful tool to help you keep strong, healthy teeth. Choose a reputable dentist, such as Dr. Halina Montano, and get their recommendation for how much fluoride you should be getting to reach your goal of optimal oral health!
Dr. Halina Montano in Boca Raton is committed to providing excellent dental care. You can rest assured that all of your dental needs will be handled with expertise and professionalism. Call our office today at 561-232-2070 to schedule your appointment. Our staff of professionals will do our utmost to make your journey to healthy and happy teeth a very pleasant one!