Fluoride is a mineral that you’ve probably heard of. In addition to occurring naturally in various foods and water sources, it’s a key ingredient in toothpaste and is often added to municipal water supplies.
So, what is fluoride—and why is it such a big deal for teeth? Let’s look at the function of fluoride and the dental benefits that it provides!
What are the benefits of fluoride?
The most common use for fluoride is strengthening tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is weakened over time by bacteria in your mouth, in a process known as “demineralization.”
Fluoride is a vital mineral for the process of “remineralization”—which is a rebuilding of the tooth enamel. In short, fluoride can help to undo damage done to your teeth over time by plaque and bacteria and make your teeth stronger!
In addition to rebuilding tooth enamel, regular use of fluoride can slow down demineralization and prevent the growth of harmful, cavity-causing bacteria. Fluoride has been shown to lower the pH level of the mouth, making it a less hospitable environment for bacteria to grow!
Are there potential side effects?
Like many good things used for medical purposes, there are some possible side effects for high intake of fluoride.
The most common side effect is “fluorosis,” which manifests in the form of white spots or white streaks on the teeth. This is largely a cosmetic side effect and is not shown to be harmful to teeth.
Fluorosis and any other side effects can be easily avoided in the United States, as municipal water sources are regulated to have safe amounts of fluoride. Just make sure that you stick to brushing your teeth only two to three times per day, and don’t use extra fluoride supplements unless recommended by a dentist!
So, now that you know how fluoride helps, where can you get it?
As mentioned above, fluoride is commonly found in foods and tap water, and it’s also the active ingredient in many toothpastes and some mouthwashes. If you’re not sure if your toothpaste contains fluoride, talk with your dentist for recommendations.
Fluoride treatments and supplements are also available for patients that need extra remineralization or who live in areas with lower fluoride levels in the municipal water.
At Almeida Bell, we know that a healthy smile is a beautiful smile! Visit our website to learn more about our general dentistry services, including professional cleanings and fluoride treatments.