Fluoride. You’ll find it in just about any dental hygiene product at your local drug store. Toothpaste, mouthwash, even fillings for baby teeth — they all have fluoride.
It’s even in the municipal water supply of Melbourne (and just about every other city in the developed world). Recently, several Brevard cities, including Melbourne, lowered their fluoride levels just a bit to adapt to new federal guidelines. Those guidelines dropped the recommended amount in municipal water supplies because fluoride is available in so many other sources such as toothpaste and mouthwashes.
Occasionally you’ll hear some nut job in Tallahassee spouting off about how fluoride is a communist conspiracy to brainwash the population, and they push to have it removed from local water supplies. But those people need to be careful what they wish for — fluoride’s probably keeping those last few teeth in their mouths.
What is fluoride and how does it protect the teeth?
Every day your mouth is kind of like an ore cart in a Cripple Creek, Colorado mine; it has minerals coming and going. Minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer through two processes, demineralization and remineralization. Remineralization is good; demineralization is the problem. Minerals are lost from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids, formed by the bacteria in plaque and sugars in the mouth, attack the enamel. Fortunately, when you eat foods and drink water, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate remineralize the teeth. Therein lies the ongoing battle — too much demineralization without remineralization results in tooth decay.
Conspiracy whackjobs aside, fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. It helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to those acids from bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride also has the cool effect of reversing early cases of decay. For kids under 6, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. This makes the teeth resistant to the assault of acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also speeds remineralization and disrupts acid production in the mouth. What’s not to love?
When is fluoride the most beneficial?
Since it was first tested in the 1940s and shown to have such tooth-strengthening powers, originally it was thought that only children benefit from fluoride. But new research shows that topical fluoride from toothpaste, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments are important to help adult teeth fight decay. For children, it’s long been known that children between 6 months and 16 years need fluoride to help build their teeth.
Fluoride treatments with Implant Dentistry of Florida
Now you know that fluoride is one of your mouth’s best friends. We provide fluoride treatments to give our patients a more concentrated occasional fluoride application. We apply fluoride varnish topically at each appointment of our younger patients. Call us at 321-259-9429 to schedule your next appointment.