What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in water sources such as oceans, and is widely distributed in nature. In many countries, Fluoride is added to drinking water to help reduce tooth decay. In the 1930s, researchers found that people who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water had up to two-thirds fewer cavities than those who did not have access to
fluoridated water. Since then, many studies and research has shown that fluoride reduces cavities in children and adults, and also helps repaid the early stages of tooth decay.
How does fluoride work?
Fluoride can help prevent cavities in a couple of ways.
1) Fluoride concentrates in the bones and teeth of children as they grow and develop, thus helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they emerge
2) Fluoride also helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already emerged
3) Demineralization takes place after eating. The saliva contains acids that dissolve the calcium and phosphorus under the tooth's surface. When the saliva is less acidic, it does the opposite and replenishes the calcium and phosphorus that keep teeth hard. This is called remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, thus strengthening your teeth.
How much fluoride do I need?
The amount of fluoride in your daily drinking water combined with the fluoride found in your toothpaste is typically enough for the average adult on a daily basis. Apart from that, a fluoride rinse or varnish in a higher concentration may be recommended once every 6 months during your dental cleaning.
However, some patients may require more than the average. Upon recommendation from your dentist, some patients may be recommended a toothpaste with a higher concentration of fluoride, or perhaps daily fluoride trays to wear. Do consult your dentist!