You have likely heard a dentist tell you about how fundamental fluoride is for your teeth. However, you may be curious how beneficial fluoride really is to your smile. Learn about fluoride and easy ways to ensure you always receive enough of it.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that makes the tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks which helps prevent and reverse tooth decay. Fluoride can benefit teeth before they even erupt. Fluoride from foods and beverages makes the tooth enamel strong and more resistant to tooth decay. Once the teeth erupt, fluoride is still just as beneficial to teeth. It remineralizes weakened enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay.
Common Fluoride Sources
Water: Essentially all natural water sources, such as rivers, lakes, wells, and the ocean, contain fluoride. However, fluoride contents vary in these water sources, so for the past 70 years, many public water sources have started adding fluoride to their water to the ideal amount to fight against tooth decay. Water fluoridation has had a lot of success in communities that participate in it. About 75% of the population has access to community water systems, so double-check if your home water source is fluoridated before relying on your tap water for a fluoride source!
Toothpaste & Mouthwash: Since the 1960s, toothpaste with fluoride has been on the market. Not all toothpaste contains fluoride, so it is important to look for toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval to ensure you are getting the full benefits of toothpaste. Adding a mouthwash with fluoride will give your smile extra protection against tooth decay. However, make sure to never give children under the age of 6 a fluoridated mouthwash. Young children's reflexes are still developing, so they tend to swallow mouthwash accidentally.
Fluoride Supplement: Fluoride supplements come in tablets, drops, or lozenges and are only available by prescription. They are recommended for children ages six months to 16 years old who are at a high risk of tooth decay and are living in a community with a water source that doesn’t have a significant amount of fluoride.
Professional Fluoride Treatment: If you have a history of cavities or are at a high risk of developing them, your dentist may suggest in-office fluoride treatments. Your dentist will directly apply fluoride to your teeth in a gel, foam, or rinse.
Fluoride is an incredible natural defense against tooth decay. Ensure you have a reliable fluoride source to keep you and your family’s smiles dazzling and cavity-free!