What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. It is found naturally in soil and rocks, many plants and grains, and in fresh and saltwater. Exposing your teeth to fluoride plays a critical role in boosting their ability to stave off dental decay. Health and dental organisations around the world strongly endorse fluoride’s role in protecting dental health. Here’s what you should know about fluoride’s role in dental health and how to get the fluoride you need.
How Fluoride Protects Teeth
Fluoride acts a couple of different ways to protect the teeth.
- It facilitates enamel re-mineralization, a process that deposits minerals such as calcium back into the teeth. This strengthens the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay-causing bacterial acid.
- Fluoride also slows down bacterial growth in the mouth. Bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars and produce harmful acids that attack the surface of the teeth and erode teeth enamel. Slowing down bacterial growth reduces the production of corrosive acids. This keeps tooth decay at bay.
Drinking fluoridated water and brushing with fluoride toothpaste introduces a consistent low-level supply of fluoride into your mouth. This helps suppress bacterial growth and acid production while encouraging re-mineralization. Both actions act together to protect your teeth.
How To Get The Fluoride You Need To Protect Your Teeth
The fluoride found naturally in the environment is not enough to protect the teeth against decay. This is why it’s added in supplemental amounts to water supplies in towns and cities across Australia. Supplemental fluoride is also added to several dental products including toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels.
Brushing your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste is one the best way to get the fluoride you need. The amount of fluoride added to dental products is carefully calculated in pharmaceutical labs. This ensures that the teeth are adequately protected without being exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride.
Another way to ensure that your teeth benefit from fluoride’s protective action is by drinking tap water. Fluoride is added to the water supply in most regions across Australia. Drinking tap water has a significant effect on staving off dental decay. Fluoride is just as important for children whose teeth are still developing, as it is for adults with permanent teeth.
What To Do If Your Teeth Aren’t Getting The Fluoride They Need
Using fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water introduce adequate amounts of the mineral into your mouth. It’s generally enough to keep healthy teeth protected. However, under certain circumstances you may not be getting sufficient fluoride. It’s important to inform your dentist if you live in a region where your tap water is not fluoridated. The same is true is you drink bottled water as it doesn’t contain fluoride. If your dentist thinks it’s necessary, they may recommend using higher-strength fluoride toothpaste or taking fluoride supplements.
Alternately, they may prescribe some sort of in-office fluoride treatment. This could be in the form of a fluoride gel or varnish that is painted onto your teeth. Fluoride varnishes are particularly beneficial for people with dry mouth that encourages the growth of bacteria. The varnish acts as a barrier between the enamel and the acid, reducing its corrosive action on the teeth.