Fluoride and Your Teeth
Fluoride seems to pop up wherever you seek oral health solutions. This chemical figures prominently in dental cleanings, drinking water, and a wide range of over-the-counter products. Although some individuals harbor an erroneous fear of fluoride, dentists recognize its powerful cavity-fighting qualities.
If you care about your teeth, it pays to understand what fluoride is, how it works to protect your dental health, and how you can take full advantage of its benefits. Here are some key points to keep in mind about fluoride and its applications.
What Fluoride Does for Tooth Enamel
As a naturally-occurring mineral, fluoride exists in many of the foods we eat. This fortunate situation counters the fact that many foods and beverages also contain high levels of acids. Acids tend to strip minerals such as calcium, phosphate, and fluoride out of tooth enamel, leaving it vulnerable to decay.
The ingestion of fluoride returns some of the missing mineral content to your tooth enamel. This remineralization not only helps protect the enamel from further damage, but in some cases it may even reverse early-stage tooth decay. The more fluoride you give your teeth, the stronger and healthier your teeth will remain.
Why Communities Fluoridate Water
City water systems typically fluoridate all the water that goes to connected households. The most recent standards require a fluoridation level no greater than 0.7 parts per million. This level offers dental benefits while also minimizing the risk of fluorosis, a harmless but unattractive staining of the tooth enamel.
Protecting the community’s teeth offers some obvious benefits to all concerned, especially when you consider that dental problems contribute to the loss of some 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours. Every dollar spent on fluoridation saves an estimated $38 in dental costs for citizens.
If you have always preferred bottled water over ordinary tap water, consider that the humble tap may provide dental benefits that the bottle cannot. Some brands of bottled water do not contain any fluoride at all, while others contain significantly less fluoride than you’d receive from drinking tap water.
To complicate matters further, the makers of bottled water currently have no obligation to list the amount of fluoride, if any, that their products contain. If you want water that provides a consistent, useful level of fluoride, choose tap water whenever possible.
Which Toothpaste to Buy
Fluoride toothpastes provide a simple way to give your teeth a healthy dose of fluoride with every brushing. If you choose a toothpaste that bears the American Dental Association seal of approval, that toothpaste will contain fluoride. You’ll also see fluoride listed as the active ingredient on the label.
Rinsing with water after you brush with a fluoride toothpaste can actually reduce some of the cavity-fighting benefits the toothpaste provides. If you usually rinse with water after you brush, at least wait a few minutes to give the fluoride time to work.
Other toothpastes can clean and whiten teeth even if they don’t contain fluoride. However, if you choose one of these non-fluoride toothpastes, make up for this deficiency by also using a fluoride mouthwash.
How Dentists Administer Fluoride Treatments
Fluoride treatments represent yet another way to give your teeth some much-needed fluoride. This approach involves applying the fluoride to the teeth in a more concentrated form than they might otherwise receive. Dental fluoride comes in forms such as varnishes, gels, and foams.
In a dental fluoride treatment, the dentist may either brush the fluoride directly onto your teeth or fit your teeth with trays containing the fluoride. The actual application may take only a few minutes, but you may also receive instruction not to eat or drink for a certain period of time afterward to avoid removing the fluoride.
You can get professional fluoride treatment right here at the office of Dr. Jerry F. Maymi & Associates, so take the opportunity to put this potent form of enamel protection to work for you. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.