Fluoride is a powerful mineral with some pretty awesome super powers – including the ability to fight cavities! Fluoride has been called nature’s cavity fighter for good reason, it can help prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay. Dentists agree, fluoride is an important preventative tool in our ability to maintain a strong and healthy mouth. Read on to learn more about fluoride, and how La Mesa Hills Dentistry can help you fight cavities.
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that has shown dental benefits in both children and adults. But how exactly does fluoride protect teeth? Fluoride strengthens the enamel (the hard outer surface) of the tooth, making it stronger and better able to resist the acid that causes decay. As it is taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements, fluoride provides the “systemic” benefit of making tooth enamel stronger, and better at resisting tooth decay. Fluoride has this beneficial effect even before teeth break through the gums.
Fluoride also provides an important remineralization benefit. On fully erupted teeth, fluoride helps rebuild weakened tooth enamel and can reverse early signs of tooth decay. If you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other dental products with fluoride, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth, providing what is called a “topical” benefit. This topical fluoride application can have a measured impact on the strength of your enamel, and the overall health of your teeth.
Since fluoride is so powerful in protecting our teeth, how do we get fluoride? One way is to drink water with fluoride. Fluoride occurs naturally in most all water sources, rivers, lakes, wells and even the oceans, and for the past 70 years, fluoride has been added to public water supplies to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoridation of community water has been so effective, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention proclaimed community water fluoridation one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. Today, almost 75 percent of the U.S. population is served by fluoridated community water systems, and studies show water fluoridation continues to help prevent tooth decay by at least 25% in children and adults.
To protect your teeth with fluoride, you can also use toothpaste and/or mouth rinse with fluoride. Since 1960, toothpaste with fluoride has made a marked difference in the number of cavities experienced in this country. Dentists recommend people over the age of three brush twice a day with an ADA-approved toothpaste containing fluoride in order to strengthen enamel and discourage cavities. Mouthwash with fluoride can also be effective at helping teeth better resist decay, but children six years or younger should not use it unless it’s been recommended by a dentist. Fluoride supplements are available by prescription, and are recommended only for children ages six months to 16 years living in areas without adequate amounts of fluoride in their community drinking water and who are at high risk of developing cavities.
Another option is to visit your dentist for a professional fluoride application. When you visit your dentist for a routine cleaning, the dentist can apply fluoride directly to your teeth with a gel, foam or rinse. A professional application like this will provide teeth with the topical benefit of fluoride, strengthening the enamel and enabling your teeth to better resist decay. Talk to your dentist, pediatrician or family physician about you and your children’s specific fluoride needs and how to best meet them.
At La Mesa Hills Dentistry, we provide general dentistry services designed to help you maintain the health of your mouth. Whether through routine cleanings, or preventative maintenance such as fluoride applications, our mission at LMHD is to help you best take care of your mouth. Ready to smile? Book an appointment with La Mesa Hills Dentistry and we will go above and beyond to meet your individual needs for a healthy and beautiful smile. Call us at (619) 469-2902 today!