Fluoride is the superhero of our mouths protecting us from decay. It is found naturally in rocks, soil and water, but it takes a scientific process to create its beneficial attributes. Fluoride is actually a chemical ion of fluorine, one of the top 20 most common elements in the earth's crust. An ion is a positively- or negatively-charged atom that helps elements combine with one another. When fluorine, which is negatively charged, meets a positively-charged ion like sodium, the cavity fighting potential is created.
When these fluoride compounds are in your mouth, they can actually make your teeth stronger and prevent cavities. They can even reverse early tooth decay. So how does fluoride fight cavities? To begin, let's look at what fluoride is working so hard to protect - your teeth.
Tooth enamel is the outer covering of your teeth. It's stronger than bone and made from calcium and phosphate. Your saliva is also loaded with calcium and phosphate and bathes the teeth to keep them strong.
When you eat things like candy and drink sodas etc., cavity-causing bacteria starts feasting on the carbohydrates in these foods. This produces acids that attack your enamel. It causes calcium and phosphate to be stripped from the tooth enamel, leaving you more vulnerable to decay. However, saliva disrupts the attack as it coats your teeth and adds back calcium and phosphate to replace what has been stripped away.
Now, here’s where fluoride is the superhero. When your saliva has fluoride in it from sources like toothpaste or water, your teeth are able to take it in. Once in your enamel, fluoride teams up with calcium and phosphate there to create the most powerful defense system your teeth can have to prevent cavities from forming: fluoroapatite. It’s much stronger, more resistant to decay and fights to protect your teeth.
There are many ways to get fluoride fighting for you. Fluoride is found in community water systems. It is also found in some mouth rinses, and your dentist can apply it to your teeth in the dental office.
On the home front, be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste that has the ADA Seal. This means that it has been tested and shown to contain the right amount of fluoride to protect your teeth. And be sure to drink water with fluoride. Be aware that not all bottled waters, for example, contain fluoride.
The most important way to protect your teeth is to become an active participant in your own oral health. Call us at Marion Dental Group to schedule your new patient exam and cleaning. Our trained hygienists and skilled dentists will answer all your questions and help you take control of your dental health. We look forward to seeing you!