One common word you may often hear at the dentist is “fluoride,” especially if you have children. You probably remember getting regular fluoride treatments as a young child yourself. However, this specific treatment declines as we age, leaving adults exposed to compromised oral health. As dentists, we believe fluoride is an essential part of any dental check-up and exam, whether for a child or an adult. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of fluoride.
WHAT IS FLUORIDE?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally and is released from rocks into the soil, plants, water and air. Almost all water contains some fluoride, but usually not enough to prevent tooth decay. Commonly used in dentistry to strengthen enamel, it helps prevent cavities.
Fluoride has been proven to have extensive oral health benefits and can be incorporated into the drinking water systems in communities. This process is known as fluoridation. Since the 1990s, the average number of missing and decaying teeth in 12-year-old children has dropped by 68 percent in the United States. This fact is due to the introduction of fluoridation and the addition of fluoride in dental products.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
Fluoride can benefit your teeth in many ways, including:
- Rebuild and remineralize weakened tooth enamel
- Slow down the loss of minerals
- Reverse early signs of tooth decay
- Prevent growth of harmful oral bacteria
When we eat sugar and carbs, our mouth bacteria break them down. The bacteria produce acids that eat away at the minerals that protect our tooth enamel. When there is weakened tooth enamel, it leaves our teeth more vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria.
WHERE CAN IT BE FOUND?
Fluoride can be found in many over-the-counter dentistry products for consumers to purchase, such as toothpaste, mouth rinses and supplements. All of these products will help prevent cavities. In addition, prescription mouth rinses that include this ingredient may be recommended for those who tend to get a lot of cavities.
Another way to prevent cavities is through the use of dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings painted on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. However, they are not substitutes for daily brushing and flossing. To learn more about dental sealants, read our blog, What Are Dental Sealants? Should My Child Have Them?
To ensure you’re getting protection from fluoride, our dentists at The Landing Dental Spa recommend using fluoride toothpaste that will regularly administer this beneficial substance to the surface of your teeth and gums. The American Dental Association (ADA) says fluoridated water and using fluoride toothpaste prevent 25 percent of cavities in both adults and children by helping to rebuild weakened tooth enamel and reversing early decay.
IS FLUORIDE SAFE?
Unrelated to dentistry, fluoride is also used:
- In medical scans, such as PET scans
- As a cleaning agent
- In pesticides
- To make steel and aluminum
These other uses of fluoride may seem concerning; however, there is no evidence linking these additives to local water and health problems. Just keep in mind that hundreds of studies report different and contradicting outcomes about people consuming it and how and if it affects health.
If your water is fluoridated and you are uncomfortable drinking fluoridated water, you can use other alternative methods for drinking water, such as bottled or filtered water. And suppose your water is not fluoridated and you’d like to incorporate fluoride into your daily routine. In that case, you can always use over-the-counter dentistry products that contain this ingredient to help keep teeth enamel strong.
VISIT THE LANDING DENTAL SPA TWICE A YEAR FOR DENTAL CHECK-UPS
As part of your overall oral health, be sure to visit your dentist at least twice a year for check-ups. At your dental check-up, if you choose, we will also paint on a fluoride treatment at the end of your dental visit to further prevent cavities and strengthen tooth enamel. Before your appointment, please check with your insurance provider to see if this treatment is covered, as most insurances do not typically cover adult fluoride.
The staff at The Landing Dental Spa will gladly welcome you into our state-of-the-art facility. We pride ourselves on offering the Morgantown area the most relaxing dental environment possible. Our services include several comforting and complimentary amenities like heated massage chairs, neck pillows, spa music and more. Feel free to ask us any questions or concerns you may have about fluoride. Call us today to schedule your next appointment at (304) 594-2200!