Fluoride plays an essential role in protecting and strengthening teeth. Most tooth enamel begins with a very high concentration of fluoride in its outer layers, but the fluoride can dissolve over time. So whether ingested through fluoridated beverages or applied topically with toothpaste, rinses or treatments, replenishing fluoride is one of best ways to strengthen tooth enamel and help it resist acids that can lead to cavity production.
Having the right amount of fluoride in your diet is vital for good oral health. We all typically purchase fluoridated toothpaste and most people are aware that it is added to public water systems as important public health measure so that you get it in your home directly from your faucets. However, did you know that you can find fluoride in a variety of other naturally occurring sources? Or that when manufacturing facilities use fluoridated “tap” water in making their products, that you can find fluoride in their products? Fluoride can be found in energy drinks, fruit juices, and canned goods (notably soups, fish and chicken). However, even though you may use fluoride toothpaste, it is still important to receive fluoride treatments with your routine six-month dental cleanings and exams.
So how does fluoride protect your teeth from decay? To understand this, you must first understand the composition of the tooth enamel. The enamel is the outer layer of the tooth, and is composed of mineral crystals that are densely packed. These minerals are lost and recovered on a daily basis. The process of losing minerals is called demineralization, and it occurs when mouth acids attack the crystals, and dissolve them. When fluoride is taken, it is absorbed into the teeth. It helps to accelerate the process of remineralization, and interferes with the production of bacterial acid. It thus prevents tooth decay, keeping teeth healthy and strong!