The Fundamentals of Fluoride
Welcome back for this installment of the ongoing informational dental blog from the office of Overmeyer Family Dental. In our last blog, we wrote about the recent increase in cavities among children, which has been associated with the rise in popularity of bottled water.
Once thought of as a fancy indulgence for the wealthy, bottled water is now widely accessible and affordable for anyone who wants it. The problem with this is bottled water is not fortified with fluoride the way tap water is. So when children are drinking more bottled water than tap water, their teeth are paying the price.
But what’s so great about fluoride? Here at Overmeyer Family Dental, we want the people to understand how fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and protect their oral health.
Fluoride vs Plaque
Plaque occurs when bacteria clump together to form a film on your teeth. When food sugars come in contact with plaque, the bacteria feeds on the sugar and converts it into corrosive acid. This acid pulls minerals out of your teeth’s enamel in a process called demineralization. Essentially, the acid produced by plaque eats away at your teeth, causing cavities.
Fluoride, when it comes into direct contact with your teeth, via toothpaste or mouthwash, forms a protective barrier on the surface your teeth, a film that counteracts the effects of the bacteria in plaque.
First of all, fluoride disrupts the formation of plaque by keeping the bacteria from clumping together. But fluorides contribution to oral health doesn’t stop there. Fluorides also interferes with the production of acid from the bacteria in your mouth. It does not stop the process outright, but it slows it down enough for saliva to come to the rescue, neutralizing the acid and washing away the bacteria.
This protective film created by fluoride does more than prevent bacteria from harming your teeth, it also helps to repair them by assisting in a process called remineralization, which is essentially the opposite of tooth decay. Whereas tooth decay leaches valuable minerals out of your teeth, remineralization puts them back, and fluoride helps your body do this.
Fluoride Builds Strong Enamel
When fluoride is ingested, as is the case with fluoridated water, it helps in the development of new teeth. Children who have a sufficient amount of fluoride in their diet have been shown to have stronger teeth than those who don’t. As result, they see fewer cavities and have fewer trips to the dentist office.
Where You Can Get Fluoride
Toothpaste – The easiest way to protect your teeth with fluoride is to scrub it into your teeth while brushing. Brushing your teeth certainly has a value without even using toothpaste, but if you add a fluoride based toothpaste to the process, you are doing more than cleaning your teeth, you are making them stronger.
Mouthwash – There are many mouthwashes to choose from, but not all of them contain fluoride. Some mouthwashes are concerned only with killing the germs that cause bad breath, while some are more concerned with protecting your gums. If your mouthwash claims to prevent tooth decay, read the ingredients list to make sure it contain fluoride. Otherwise, it won’t be doing its job.
Public Tap Water – Although not every city in the US fluoridates its public water, the majority of them do. That is why it is unhealthy to drink bottled or distilled water exclusively, especially for children, whose teeth are still forming. As we explained above, fluoride is essential for the formation of strong enamel. So if your children are not getting fluoride from the water they drink, they need to be getting it from somewhere else.
Preventive Dental Care in Orlando, FL
Now that you understand the importance of fluoride for the protection of your oral health, come see us at Overmeyer Family Dental for preventive dental care that will keep you smiling and feeling great.
Contact us today for more information.