Fluoride is present in most of the foods we eat, and tap water in the US has been treated with the mineral (a process known as fluoridation) due to its benefits for oral health. Most people know that fluoride has been linked to healthy teeth, but do you know why fluoride is necessary? Dr. Jorgenson, your Costa Mesa dentist, explains the function of the mineral and your smile’s need for it.
Why Fluoride Is Important For Your Teeth
Throughout the day and at night, your tooth enamel is undergoing two processes: demineralization and remineralization. Substances that attack the tooth enamel, like plaque, sugars, and other acids, cause minerals from the enamel to be lost (demineralization). When minerals from food, like calcium, phosphate, and fluoride, are introduced into the mouth, they attach to the tooth enamel to remineralize the teeth. An imbalance between de- and remineralization throws off your tooth health. Cavities occur as a result of excessive demineralization. Fluoride, however, strengthens tooth enamel to protect teeth against the plaque and acids that cause tooth decay.
Who Needs Fluoride
While people of all ages benefit from fluoride for stronger teeth, children whose permanent teeth are still developing may benefit most from exposure to the mineral. Children are also the most vulnerable to cavities between the ages of 6 and 14, meaning extra protection against tooth decay is especially vital during this time. Adults who experience certain risk factors for tooth decay may also require extra fluoride exposure. These factors include having a history of many cavities, gum disease, conditions affecting the immune system, or the use of medications that cause dry mouth.
How To Get More Fluoride
In general, you should brush your teeth twice daily using a fluoridated toothpaste. Adding a mouthwash containing fluoride provides an extra boost of the mineral. These steps are especially important if you drink bottled or filtered water, which does not contain fluoride. Your dentist can evaluate your need for a fluoride supplement. At your next dental appointment, one of our knowledgeable dental hygienists can provide a quick fluoride treatment following your routine six month dental checkup and cleaning.
Potential Risks With Fluoride
Fluoride is extremely beneficial in cavity prevention, however there may be some children who get an adequate amount of fluoride from their tap water, diet, and dental care products. For these patients, overexposure to the mineral can cause a cosmetic condition called fluorosis, which appears as white, chalky lines on the surface of the teeth. Adults should carefully monitor children’s intake of fluoride — especially since many topical fluoride treatments come in tasty flavors that are tempting for children.
Questions? Let’s Talk About Fluoride Today
Are you and your child receiving adequate fluoride each day? Contact your dentist in Costa Mesa to discuss fluoride — for the good of your dental health. Our treatment coordinators can verify your dental insurance benefits and determine if this treatment is a covered benefit. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Jorgenson today!