What is Fluoride and What are its Benefits?

6/17/18   #Dental Health
Fluoride helps all of us to protect your children’s teeth, and it is a naturally-occurring mineral. Fluoride comes from fluorine, which is a common, natural, and abundant element. Often referred to as nature’s cavity fighter, fluoride helps to prevent cavities in teeth by making the outer surface of the teeth, your enamel, more resistant to damage from tooth-decaying acids. We will explain later how it can also help to repair small cavities.

Dr. Frank Sierra and his colleagues recently added a blogs about food and drinks that damage tooth enamel and one about sugar, so be sure to take a look. In order to keep your child’s teeth healthy, they need to eat right, brush and floss, visit their dentist, and have access to fluoride.

How Does Fluoride Help?

Fluoride helps to rebuild weakened tooth enamel and can reverse early tooth decay. When it makes contact with teeth, fluoride is absorbed into the enamel. It helps to repair that enamel by replenishing any lost calcium and phosphorous to keep your teeth hard. We refer to this process as remineralization. 

How Do I Expose My Child’s Teeth to Fluoride?

Fluoride is found in most water sources including rivers, lakes, wells, and oceans. Once the benefits of fluoride was discovered, local governments started adding it to the public water supplies as well. Before fluoridation, children had about three times as many cavities.

Adding fluoride to the water supply reduces the incidence of tooth decay. Fluoride in Tampa occurs naturally at .2-.3 ppm (parts per million).
 
Community water Fluoridation brings the efficacy up to .6-.7 ppm which provides the amount required to reduce the incidence of tooth decay.
 
In 1986, Dr. Randy Feldman was most instrumental in speaking in front of city and county leaders and was able to get a referendum passed that directed and authorized the Tampa Department of Water to add the appropriate amounts of supplemental Fluoride.
 
It is important to note that bottled water may not provide the same levels of fluoride protection that most tap water does.

Toothpaste containing fluoride is another important way to introduce the proper levels of the mineral to your children’s teeth. When shopping, look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance to make sure it is a toothpaste containing fluoride. For more information on children’s toothpaste and the proper amounts for different ages view our detailed blog on the subject.

In 2014, the United States Preventive Services Task Force released its updated recommendation on fluoride varnish. The new recommendation advises medical provider to apply fluoride varnish to primary teeth starting with the eruption of the first tooth through age 5 years. Only a small amount is used. It is quickly applied and hardens, and is then brushed off after 4 to 12 hours.  

In some cases, Silver Diamine Fluoride, which is composed of silver and fluoride is used. The silver acts as an antimicrobial agent and also strengthens the dentin layer of the teeth. The fluoride helps to stop tooth decay. There are several benefits in that it is non-invasive, painless, quick, and is an option for children who can’t sit for longer cavity treatments.

Please share this article with friends and family who are working to keep a child’s smile healthy. If you have any other questions about fluoride, contact our office in person, by phone, or even through our social media channels.