Fluoride Part I
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and water supplies contain fluoride. The use of fluoride varnish to prevent and control dental caries in children and adults is expanding in both public and private dental practice settings and in non-settings that incorporate health risk assessment and counseling. Fluoride is most commonly associated with dental hygiene products and tooth protection. Most people are exposed to fluoride through treated drinking water or products such as toothpaste and mouthwash.
In the 1930s, researchers found that people who grew up drinking fluoridated water had up to 2/3 fewer cavities than people living in areas without fluoridated water. The American Dental Association, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, among many other organizations have endorsed the use of fluoride in water supplies because of its effect on tooth decay.
How does Fluoride work?
Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:
1. Fluoride concentrates in the growing bone and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they emerge.
2. Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already emerged.
When bacteria in the mouth combine with sugars, acid is produced that can erode tooth enamel and damage teeth. Fluoride can protect teeth from demineralization that is caused by the acid. If teeth have already been damaged by acid, fluoride accumulates in the demineralized areas and begins strengthening the enamel – a process called remineralization.
How is fluoride obtained?
Fluoride may be ingested or applied topically. If foods containing fluoride are consumed then fluoride enters the bloodstream and is eventually absorbed by the teeth and bones. Fluoride can be applied directly to the teeth by a healthcare provider. Here at Sandia Heights Dental Care, Dr. Monique Lee and our trained members can apply fluoride varnish. The teeth will readily absorb topical fluoride treatments since it stays in contact with the teeth for several hours.
Many communities add fluoride to the drinking water to ensure that the recommended levels are obtained; unfortunately fluoride is no longer being added to Albuquerque’s drinking water. Supplemental fluoride has not been added to the city water since 2011.
Who should receive fluoride?
Many governmental health agencies recommend that both children and adults receive some level of fluoride. Children need fluoride to protect their permanent teeth as they are forming. Adults need fluoride so that they can continue to protect teeth against tooth decay.
Some people are at higher risk of developing tooth decay and can benefit from fluoride applications to help prevent dental disease. This includes people who have:
- Tooth Decay
- Xerostomia (Dry mouth)
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Presence of braces, crowns or bridges, exposed root surfaces.
- Chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- Diet rich in carbohydrates.
- People who live in areas where water fluoridation is not optimal.
Here at Sandia Heights Dental Care we emphasize prevention. Fluoride is an easy way to prevent dental decay.
Sources for content: Colgate.com, ADA, Medicalnewstoday.com