Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in a number of foods as well as the water that comes out of our tap. Our teeth have a coating of minerals on them as part of their enamel layer, but each day, some of that layer is lost as part of a demineralization process. This occurs because of things like acids from plaque, bacteria, and sugar wearing down the enamel. In order to properly protect the teeth and re-mineralize them, minerals like fluoride and calcium must be put back onto the teeth. Without this process, the teeth can begin to decay and break down over time.
Forms of Fluoride
Found in food and water, fluoride is applied to the teeth by use of special kinds of toothpaste, mouth rinses, and a dentist prescribed product. If you have a routine dentist appointment and your dentist feels that your teeth do not have enough minerals on their surface, it might be recommended to you that you have dentist-grade fluoride applied. This can be done right at the appointment and the product may be a gel, foam, or rinse. Usually, the process only takes about five minutes and you are on your way.
Critical Ages for Fluoride
The most important years for children to be exposed to fluoride is between six months and sixteen years. This period is when they are developing their first teeth, losing their baby teeth, as well as growing in their adult teeth. It is important to have a good routine of having fluoride treatment applied to your teeth at a young age, and then keeping up with a good oral health routine to maintain the integrity of your teeth. Adults benefit from fluoride as well, and they should utilize fluoride-based products and treatments in their dentist’s office.
When used in moderation and under the supervision of a dentist, fluoride is very safe and beneficial. However, if you use too much fluoride, this can lead to toxicity in the body. This is especially true for smaller children under the age of six, who aren’t used to spitting out their toothpaste and often swallow the products that they are using. Too much fluoride on the teeth can present itself as white spots on the teeth. It can be difficult to get rid of these spots if they do appear.
Who is at Risk?
There are a number of lifestyle factors that can lead to a deficiency in fluoride. For one, people who drink filtered or bottled water are likely not coming into contact with fluoride very often. Water from a well is also usually deficient in many of the important minerals that the body and teeth need.
Fluoride is very beneficial because it helps prevent tooth decay. This decay could eventually lead to cavities, gum disease, and much worse. You can use products like fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water as a way to rebalance your teeth each day. You can also have a fluoride treatment performed at your dentist’s office. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Mountain View Dental at 385-324-3557.