What is Fluoride?
You may have heard that fluoride is added to drinking water in an effort to reduce tooth decay. Or perhaps your remember having it applied to your teeth during your last dental visit. But what exactly is fluoride, and how does it prevent tooth decay? Read below to learn more about its cavity-fighting abilities.
Fluoride is an element that occurs naturally in the earth. In fact, it is the thirteenth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, where it can be found naturally in minerals, ocean water, soil, and foods. If you remember your periodic table, it is the ninth element, and it is nestled right between oxygen and neon.
Prevent Tooth Decay
Fluoride is added to dental products and to drinking water because of the role it plays in fighting against tooth decay. Back in the 1930s, researchers discovered that people who grew up in areas containing naturally fluoridated water had far fewer cavities than those who lived in areas without fluoridated water. Since that discovery, fluoridation of public drinking water has become a common practice in the United States. There are over 5000 scientific studies that show that at low levels fluoride is a safe and effective way to protect your teeth from cavities.
How It 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 (which destroys enamel) and by making developing enamel more resistant to attacks by acid. 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 aiding in remineralization, the process by which damaged enamel is strengthened. This is why we recommend that both children and adults get professional fluoride treatments twice a year.
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 Williamsburg dentist office today at 757-645-4055 to schedule an appointment.