Fluoride is a chemical ion that is naturally occurring in water, food, and soil. Fluoride is also synthesized in laboratories to be added to drinking water or used in a variety of products. Fluoride is most commonly associated with dental hygiene products and tooth protection.

Fluoride can protect teeth from decay and cavities and also strengthen damaged teeth. When the 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 acid causes. If teeth have already been damaged by acid, fluoride accumulates in the demineralized areas and begins strengthening the enamel—a process called remineralization.

Most people receive fluoride daily through treated drinking water, toothpaste and mouthwash. Certain foods also contain fluoride, such as meat, fish, eggs, and tea leaves. When these foods are consumed, fluoride enters the bloodstream and is eventually absorbed by the teeth and bones. Many communities add fluoride to the drinking water to ensure that the recommended levels are obtained.

An extra boost of fluoride is recommended to keep teeth healthy. Fluoride is applied directly to the teeth twice a year at each dental cleaning by your child’s dentist or hygienist. The teeth readily absorb this fluoride as it remains in the mouth for several hours.

Studies show a much higher rate of decay among communities that do not have fluoride in their water compared to the communities that do. For our patients that live in non-fluoridated communities, and are at high risk for decay, we can provide a fluoride supplement to be taken daily.

Check back next week to learn everything about sealants!

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