What is Fluoride, Anyways?
When we shop for toothpaste or mouth rinses, we usually look for one key ingredient-fluoride. We know our dentist loves fluoride because it helps prevent cavities. But what is it? How does it help our teeth? And where can we find it besides toothpaste and mouth rinses?
What Is Fluoride?
What do your teeth, bones, soil, water, plants, rocks, and air all have in common? You guessed it, fluoride. The compound is an inorganic, monatomic anion with the chemical formula F−. Don’t worry, that’s as much chemistry as we’ll get into today. This ion is a naturally occurring, active ingredient that comes in several different forms, and its salts are odorless and flavorless. Dental products add it in order to prevent decay. Many cities add it to their water supply to promote public health.
How Can It Help?
As plaque and sugars attack the mouth, minerals are lost from the tooth’s enamel through a process called demineralization. As food and waters are consumed, minerals like fluoride and calcium are redeposited to the tooth’s enamel in a process called remineralization. Demineralization without reparative remineralization causes tooth decay. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to attacks from sugar and plaque during demineralization. It speeds up remineralization in the mouth, basically working as a defense system for your mouth. Fluoride toothpaste and rinses are most effective when paired with the BASS method of brushing and a well-designed toothbrush, like the MD Deep Clean Brush.
While fluoride is an important tool for adults to use it is most important for children ages six months to sixteen years. During this time the primary and permanent teeth develop and need extra help resisting decay. Fluoride helps developing enamel become hard and resistant to cavities and decay. After the teeth have appeared in the mouth, it fortifies the enamel so they can resist acid production and oral bacteria.
Where Can I Get It?
Fluoride is found in water, some toothpaste, and mouth rinses. There are also some foods, like black tea and potatoes, that contain higher amounts of fluoride (like we needed an excuse to eat more potatoes). If you aren’t getting enough fluoride your doctor or dentist can prescribe you over-the-counter supplements. Dentists can apply the ion directly to the teeth as a foam, gel, or varnish. These treatments have much higher levels compared to traditional toothpaste or mouth rinses. Foams are put into a mouth guard and applied to the teeth for up to four minutes, varnishes and gels are painted on the teeth.
The Right Way to Fluoride
Tooth be told, fluoride alone isn’t enough to keep your teeth healthy. You need to brush and floss your teeth correctly while using the right tools for the ion to be effective. For the strongest and healthiest smile, brush with the BASS method of brushing, our thorough MD Deep Clean Brush, and visit your dentist regularly. If you have questions about other ways to optimize your oral health visit our contact page, read our FAQ’s, or check out our blog.