The Importance of Fluoride in Your Dental Routine

Oral_HealthThe oral health of Americans took a giant leap forward after World War II, in large part because many more people became exposed to fluoride that had been added to their public drinking water. In some cases, adding fluoride to public water supplies lowered a community’s collective rate of tooth decay by 40 to 70 percent.

Here’s a quick primer on why fluoride is so valuable in promoting optimal oral health, as well as information on the three most common ways to receive fluoride as part of your daily routine.

How Fluoride Promotes Oral Health

  1. It remineralizes teeth – Fluoride facilitates the depositing of minerals such as calcium and phosphate onto the teeth, which repairs the damage to the enamel layer of the teeth that is caused by plaque bacteria. Some experts call remineralization “tooth decay in reverse.”
  2. It strengthens teeth – Teeth that have been exposed to fluoride actually become stronger than they were before treatment.
  3. It reduces bacterial acid production – As noted above, bacterial plaque are responsible for weakening the structure of the teeth and promoting tooth decay. Fluoride inhibits the rate at which dental bacteria are able to produce acidic waste products.

Forms of Fluoride Treatment

  1. Toothpastes and mouth rinses – It’s very easy to find over-the-counter products that will protect you with fluoride every time you clean your teeth. Look for brands that bear the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.
  2. Treatments delivered at the dentist’s officeYour dentist may decide you need additional fluoride applied to your teeth. He or she can provide this through gels, rinses, or foam treatments. These fluoride delivery methods are much more powerful than over-the-counter products.
  3. Supplemental fluoride – If you live in a community with fluoridated water, you’re already receiving some supplemental fluoride. (You won’t get fluoride in bottled water.) Your dentist can also prescribe supplemental fluoride in lozenge or tablet form if he or she feels you would benefit from it.

“Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that is a valuable ally in the quest for oral health,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist practicing in central Phoenix. “Your dentist can identify the methods and amount of fluoride treatment that is best for you.”



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