Fluoride is a mineral that’s proven beneficial in protecting against dental decay. The ADC (Australian Dental Association) says that fluoride works by making teeth more resistant to decay. However, while it isn’t always needed, everyone can benefit.
You have undoubtedly heard that it is good for you. But what exactly is the importance of fluoride for oral health?
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. You can find it in plants, water, soil and food. Manufacturers also add it to toothpaste, mouthwash and other dental products. In addition, many states also add it to the local drinking water supply.
Benefits of Fluoride
One of the primary benefits of fluoride is its capacity to help prevent cavities. It does so by strengthening the tooth enamel and slowing down the rate at which bacteria produce acid that can cause cavities (decay).
The tooth enamel is vital in protecting the sensitive inner components of the tooth. However, it is exposed to harmful bacteria that cause wear. That is why you need fluoride to strengthen the enamel.
Fluoride helps with proper teeth formation.
Children need extra fluoride to ensure their permanent teeth develop properly during their formative years. For this reason, many communities add fluoride to drinking water systems so that everyone gets enough of it throughout childhood.
Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to decay.
A significant reason why fluoride is so vital for your oral health is that it helps remineralise teeth. This effect means that fluoride helps prevent decay by making the enamel of your teeth more resistant to acids, which can cause cavities or tooth decay. Fluoride also fights bacteria in the mouth, reducing plaque buildup and gum disease.
Fluoride helps fight tooth decay by stopping acid from attacking the outer layer of enamel (called demineralisation). In addition, hard tissue like bones and teeth absorb the mineral ions found in water that contains fluoride, which helps make them more robust.
Fluoride helps in tooth whitening.
The tooth-whitening process often increases sensitivity. Therefore, it is best to have some additional ‘structural’ support to prevent or lessen this effect. That is where fluoride comes in. The mineral penetrates the inner part of your teeth through the enamel. Once there, it shores up your teeth’s strength to help protect the more sensitive areas deep within. As a result, you achieve the desired whiteness without the resulting sensitivity.
You can also use fluoride varnish for teeth whitening. While this product differs from other whitening solutions, it still helps reduce teeth staining and enhance brightness.
Fluoride is available as toothpaste, mouthwash and gels designed to be applied directly onto the teeth. Topical fluoride products have been shown to reduce dental cavities in children ages 6 months through 16 years old who have never had them professionally treated with sealants or other restorative materials such as fillings or crowns. These products also help prevent tooth decay when used regularly by adults with no existing dental problems, such as fillings or crowns on their permanent molar teeth (back teeth).
If you’re unsure about your need for fluoride, ask your dentist. Not only are they the experts and ideal informational resource, but they are also more familiar with the state of your oral health, hence are better placed to determine whether it is beneficial.
Fluoride is good for oral health and helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. If you have questions about whether fluoride products are right for you, talk to your dentist! They can help determine if you should use them by looking at your teeth and gums or asking about your medical history.