Fluoride is a mineral that’s important in strengthening and protecting teeth. This mineral is actually able to attract other minerals to your tooth enamel. Fluoride facilitate the the movement of certain minerals (including calcium and phosphate) into the enamel. These minerals are what make tooth enamel the hardest substance in the body. Some fluoride also remains within the tooth, helping it to resist breakdown by acids.
Acids can be directly present in foods (such as soda), and are created by bacteria when they encounter sugar; these acids act to dissolve enamel, which is how a cavity forms. Fluoride helps the tooth to resist attack by acids.
Are you getting enough fluoride?
Most tap water in the US today contains fluoride. In most communitites, public health authorities direct it to be added to the tap water to reduce the risk of tooth decay, particularly in children. However, decisions about adding fluoride to water are made at the state or local level, and some communities don’t add fluoride.
Most bottled water doesn’t contain adequate fluoride. In some cases, parents think that they are protecting their babies by using bottled water to mix formula, but actually, tap water is better in this case. Many children pack bottled water in school lunches, and adults tend to toss a bottled water in the car instead of filling up a reusable water bottle with tap water.
Having too little fluoride can increase the risk of getting cavities and needing fillings.
To ensure that children’s teeth get enough fluoride as they’re developing, fluoride varnishes are often applied. This can be done at your child’s regular checkup. Your child’s teeth will be painted with a fluoride solution, which is left on for a short period and then spat out. The fluoride solution is flavored, and your child can choose his or her flavor; most children don’t mind getting a fluoride varnish, and may even enjoy the process because it tastes good. Afterwards, your child shouldn’t eat or drink anything at all (including water) for about thirty minutes, to give the fluoride time to work.
In some cases, adults may also benefit from fluoride varnishes or rinses. Again, it’s a quick procedure done in our office, and be part of your regular checkup. Oftentimes, our hygienist will recommend additional ways to keep your fluoride levels up between dental visits. These may include switching to tap water or using a fluoride-rich mouthwash at home.
It’s generally recommended that children over age two start using fluoride toothpaste. It’s better if your child doesn’t swallow the toothpaste; use a small amount, and teach him or her to spit it out rather than swallow it. Adults should continue using fluoride toothpaste to keep their teeth as strong as possible.
Fluoride works together with dental sealants, which are plastic coatings applied to the back molars to protect them from bacteria, to prevent cavities. They both protect your teeth, but in different ways.
Dentist in Virginia Beach
If you’re needing a checkup and possibly fluoride in Virginia Beach, visit Dr. Mary Lewis. She’s a top dentist in Virginia Beach, beloved by all of her patients, children and adults alike. Her patients frequently comment on how friendly and reassuring she is, so that they don’t feel anxious at the dentist at all. To book an appointment with Dr. Lewis for yourself or your child, please call our office.