What is Fluoride?
You may have heard that fluoride is added to drinking water in an effort to reduce tooth decay. You might have had fluoride applied to your teeth during your last trip to the dentist. Yet what is it, and how does it prevent tooth decay? Below we explain how fluoride combats cavities.
Fluoride: The Element
Fluoride is an element that occurs naturally in the earth. It is the thirteenth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, found naturally in minerals, ocean water, soil, and foods. If you recall high school chemistry, on the periodic table, fluoride is the ninth element, nestled between oxygen and neon.
The Discovery of Fluoride as a Combating Agent of Tooth Decay
Fluoride is added to dental products and to drinking water because of the role it plays in fighting against tooth decay. In the 1930s, scientists observed that people who grew up in areas containing naturally fluoridated water had fewer cavities than those who lived in areas without fluoridated water. Since that discovery, fluoridation of public drinking water is a standard practice in the United States. There are over 5,000 scientific studies that show that low levels of fluoride is a safe and effective way to protect your teeth from cavities.
How Fluoride Protects Teeth
Fluoride defends against tooth decay in two ways. First, it helps prevent the erosion of tooth enamel, also known as demineralization. It does this by reducing bacteria’s ability to produce acid and making developing enamel more resistant to acid attacks. Because fluoride strengthens developing enamel, it is often applied to children’s teeth to help strengthen them and prevent tooth decay. The second way that fluoride fights tooth decay is by catalyzing remineralization, the process by which damaged enamel is strengthened. We recommend that both children and adults get professional fluoride treatments twice a year. Click here to learn more about pediatric fluoride treatment.
Visit Your Williamsburg Dentist
Although fluoride can help protect against tooth decay, it is no substitute for thorough homecare and regular dental visits. If more than six months have passed since your last dental cleaning, contact our office today at 757-645-4055 to schedule an appointment.