Did you know that fluoride was added to drinking water in the 1940s to lessen tooth decay? This naturally occurring mineral helps keep our teeth strong and protects them against tooth decay. Our tooth enamel is porous and composed of tiny crystals that act as protective shield against harmful, tooth-damaging bacteria. When you consume foods high in sugar, such as candy or fruit, bacteria use it to create acid. Eventually, this process causes wear to the enamel and sparks demineralization. However, fluoride can help protect your teeth from acid damage.
Demineralization occurs when your tooth enamel loses more nutrients that it absorbs. In some cases, if the tooth decay is not treated right away, it can spread and cause damage deep within the tooth…ouch! This can cause many problems such as cavities and the need for possible root canal therapy. It is important to make sure that your teeth get the right amount of fluoride, calcium, and phosphate to fight decay. Fluoride helps rebuild those tiny enamel crystals and block out acid-creating bacteria.
Another successful method to protect your smile is to receive a fluoride treatment that will remineralize your teeth. Fluoride treatments are usually recommended for children aged 6-16 years old because their teeth are extra-susceptible, but adults can also receive treatments. Fluoride treatments are available in several forms, such as a gel, foam, or varnish.
There are also other ways to protect your teeth with fluoride:
Drinks such as tea and milk contain fluoride and calcium for strong teeth. Although milk and tea contain enamel-building nutrients, most public drinking water is a key source of fluoride! Be sure to check with your community to learn more about the fluoride level of your tap water. Also, be aware that filtering your tap water can remove this beneficial mineral.
Mouthwash and Toothpaste
Most commercially available mouthwashes and toothpastes contain fluoride. Children under 6 should not use mouthwash because they often end up swallowing some by mistake. Also, children 6 years old and older should only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and always be under adult supervision.
At Premier Dental Associates of Lower Manhattan, we want our patients to keep strong and healthy teeth. Call us or book an appointment online if you should have any questions about fluoride treatments. Let us help you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile that everyone will be sure to notice!