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What Does Fluoride Do for Your Teeth?

Teeth Baton Rouge Orthodontist

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in food and water that is essential for helping to replace tooth enamel lost during daily demineralization and remineralization. When plaque forms in the mouth, a breeding ground is made for bacteria to attach and attack your enamel. Fluoride, phosphate, and calcium add to the remineralization process of your enamel layer from the water and food that you ingest. Without enough remineralization, your teeth will have a net decay.

The main benefit of fluoride is to help prevent tooth decay by making your teeth robust against attacks from bacteria, acids, and sugars. It’s also able to reverse early decay. In children 6 and younger, fluoride is important for developing teeth that are resistant to decay in their adult form. Fluoride is able to speed remineralization in erupted teeth of adults and children alike.

How Can I Get Fluoride?

You can find fluoride in water and food, but it can also be applied directly to your teeth via fluoridated mouth rinses and toothpaste. Over-the-counter fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses will have lower concentrations, while stronger concentrations will require a prescription.

A dentist can also provide fluoride in the form of a varnish, foam, or gel. A varnish is painted onto the teeth, foams are applied to the inside of mouthguards worn between one and four minutes, and gels can be applied to teeth via either of the above methods. These concentrations will be a medical strength. Fluoride supplements are also found in both tablet and liquid form, though these must also be acquired via prescription.

When is Fluoride Intake Most Important?

It’s critical for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 to get exposed to fluoride. This is the window of opportunity where adult teeth start to come in. Adults can benefit from fluoride, too, but fighting tooth decay early and developing a robust enamel will help to keep growing teeth straighter and healthier.

There are a few conditions that also benefit from additional fluoride procedures:

  • Frequent Cavities: if you often have cavities, you will benefit from fluoride treatment for your enamel.
  • Gum Disease: periodontitis exposes more tooth areas to harmful bacteria, acids, and sugars.
  • Dry Mouth: xerostomia, whether caused by a syndrome or a medication, makes people prone to tooth decay because the lack of saliva makes it harder for food particles to be neutralized.
  • Having Braces or Crowns: these treatments can cause issues where they touch the underlying tooth structure or form bacteria harborages around the brackets.

Is Fluoride Dangerous?

Fluoride is effective and safe for treating demineralization and protecting tooth enamel when used at proper doses recommended by your doctor. Toxic levels depend on an individual’s weight. This is why it’s a good idea for parents to keep products with higher levels of fluoride out of reach of children, especially those under age 6.

Using too much fluoride improperly can cause fluorosis, which causes tooth discoloration, especially in development. Keep in mind though that the threshold of toxicity for fluoride is quite high, and it would be incredibly difficult to reach it with over-the-counter products alone without abusing supplements.

Get Fluoride Treatment for Your Teeth Today

If you’re experiencing concerns about your tooth enamel, don’t wait until it’s too late and you already have a sore mouth. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, so give the experts at Fruge Orthodontics a call today to schedule an appointment!