Fluoride is a helpful mineral found in many tap water supplies that can strengthen enamel and improve long-term dental health.
Fluoride occurs naturally all around us — in rocks, in water, and even in the air we breathe. Fluoride can also be added to drinking water, in a process called fluoridation, which is common in water supplies across the United States. You can find it in toothpastes and mouthwashes designed to prevent cavities, as well.
Even though fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that plays an important role in our dental health, few people actually understand what it does — and why it’s important. Let’s discuss the benefits of fluoride, and why it’s a super-mineral for fighting cavities.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally throughout the earth’s crust and atmosphere. It is used in a variety of dental care products, from toothpastes to mouthwashes. During the past few decades, fluoride has been added to drinking water supplies in small amounts (less than 0.7 parts per million). Today, most towns in the United States have fluoride in their water supply.
Despite its proven benefits, many people are sceptical of fluoride. There are plenty of rumors swirling about this compound, and some people even go as far as to avoid tap water due to concerns about fluoride content. Thankfully, these concerns are almost entirely unfounded. Fluoride is almost always helpful, and it shows negligible side effects when consumed in small quantities.
The only side effect from common amounts of fluoride is the potential for dental fluorosis — harmless white splotches that can temporarily show up on children’s teeth. Aside from this cosmetic condition, drinking fluoridated water and using fluoridated dental products is a safe and effective way to maintain healthy teeth.
How Does Fluoride Help Your Teeth?
When your enamel wears down, your teeth become vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay. Dental bacteria (often found in plaque) can bind to your enamel and degrade your teeth to the point where your enamel wears down completely.
The key to preventing tooth decay is strong, healthy enamel. Fluoride combines with your saliva to remineralize your enamel, which helps to defend against cavities. It works by encouraging minerals like phosphorus and calcium to bind to your enamel and prevent demineralization from bacteria.
Many fluoridated dental aides are available over-the-counter. You can buy fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash from your local drugstore, and chances are you’ve got fluoridated drinking water in your sink.
For heavy-duty dental protection, ask your dentist about fluoride treatment. Fluoride treatment uses a variety of compounds, including specialized mouthwashes and gels, to expose your teeth to high concentrations of fluoride. Fluoride treatments are generally fast, inexpensive, and non-invasive.
For more information on fluoride treatment, contact us at Espire. Our dentists offer professional fluoride treatments in a friendly environment. Request an appointment today — your smile is too important to wait!