Dr. Hanna's Quick Guide To Fluoride

Dr. Hanna's Quick Guide To Fluoride
Posted on 08/20/2015

There are a lot of ways to keep your mouth healthy, such as being conscious of your eating habits and keeping up a good oral hygiene routine.  However, there’s a miraculous mineral out there that makes keeping our smiles strong and healthy a little bit easier: Fluoride.  You’ve probably heard about fluoride before, whether it’s on your toothpaste or your dentist made you rinse with it after your appointment. But what is fluoride and what does it do for us exactly that’s so beneficial?

What Is Fluoride & How Does It Help Your Teeth?

On a daily basis, minerals are lost from the enamel of your teeth in a process known as demineralization.  These minerals are essential for keeping your teeth strong, so without them, your teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities.   

Now, fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in water and some foods, but what makes it truly special is that it can actually restore those lost minerals to our teeth through a process called re-mineralization.  Not only can fluoride help repair our teeth, but continued fluoride exposure can help make your teeth even stronger, thanks to the enhanced presence of those essential minerals, protecting them from future damage and decay.  

While the effects of fluoride on our smiles are amazing, it is possible to overexpose your teeth to fluoride, leading to the development of a condition known as dental fluorosis.  In mild cases, which make up about 92% of all reported cases of dental fluorosis, white spots appear on the surface of your teeth that are not always noticeable.  In the severe cases that are very rare, the enamel of the teeth is changed drastically to the point where pits may form in the teeth.  

How To Get Fluoride?

As we mentioned above, fluoride is naturally occurring in water, but the levels that we find naturally are too small to actually have a re-mineralizing effect on our teeth.  For that reason, many communities take part in an long term public health effort known as water fluoridation, which involved controlling the level of fluoride in public water supplies. This effort puts the optimum fluoride concentration in our normal drinking water, giving us just enough fluoride that we need to enjoy all of the wonderful oral health benefits, while limiting our risk for overexposure and developing dental fluorosis.

Since the level of fluoride in our drinking water is still very small, it can also be found in various oral hygiene products, such as toothpastes and mouth rinses. 

Fluoride Is Just One Piece Of The Puzzle

While fluoride is a great tool for keeping your mouth healthy, relying on fluoride alone just won’t do.  If you want your smile to really last a lifetime, make sure your maintain a thorough oral hygiene routine of brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash to ensure that your mouth stays free from harmful bacteria and plaque.  Also, don’t forget to visit your local dentist at least every 6 months to ensure that your mouth stays healthy!