Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in numerous foods and water. It's an important mineral for dental health as it helps to keep tooth enamel harder and more resistant to the acids found in the mouth. Children between ages six months and 16 years need to be exposed to some fluoride as this is when their primary or milk teeth and adult teeth erupt. It's also important for adults, as recent research has found topically applied fluoride in the form of mouth rinse, fluoride treatments, and of course fluoride toothpaste is important in helping to fight decay in adult teeth.
How Does Fluoride Help Teeth?
Every day your teeth go through demineralization and re-mineralization as acid attacks the teeth. This acid is formed by bacteria in the mouth and attacks the tooth enamel so essential minerals are lost, and occurs every time you eat or drink something sugary which has a high carbohydrate value. After approximately half an hour to an hour the acid levels in the mouth gradually begin to return to normal and re-mineralization occurs. During remineralization essential minerals that have been removed from the teeth are redeposited, along with fluoride.
An adequate supply of fluoride makes it more difficult for demineralization to occur and also helps to speed up re-mineralization. In addition to obtaining some fluoride through water and food, it can be applied directly to the teeth in the form of toothpaste and mouth rinse. Making sure you brush your teeth with good quality fluoride toothpaste will help to protect them, and it's best to spit out excess toothpaste but not rinse your mouth once you finish brushing. This is because some of the fluoride ions will remain in your saliva for a little longer, helping to prolong the protective effects. It's possible to buy fluoride mouthwash over-the-counter if you feel your teeth need a bit of an extra boost, but this isn't particularly strong. If your dentist at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center thinks you're more at risk of tooth decay then they might describe a stronger concentration mouth rinse.
What about Extra Fluoride?
In addition there are various fluoride treatments you might be offered during regular exams. These include extra strength mouth rinse, fluoride varnishes that are painted onto the teeth, or fluoride provided in mouth trays that are left in the mouth for several minutes. Fluoride supplements can be provided in tablet or liquid form by your dentist or physician.
Is it Possible to Have Too Much Fluoride?
If taken in sufficiently large quantities then fluoride can be toxic, but it would be pretty difficult to overdose on this mineral. However it's important to supervise the use of fluoride if you have young children, and to make sure fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse is kept well out of reach just in case they decide it's edible.
It's best to ask your dentist for advice on fluoride use for very young children, as although they need some fluoride to help their developing teeth, an excess of fluoride can create a condition called fluorosis which is where white or brown flecks develop on the teeth and these can be very difficult to remove through tooth bleaching. Young children lack the ability to spit out excess toothpaste, so it could be that your dentist recommends the use of non-fluoridated toothpaste before the age of two, or that you only use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste. You'll find your children's dentist at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center can give you all the advice about fluoride you need to help your children develop strong and healthy teeth.
Cosmetic Dentistry Center
7708 4th Avenue
Bay Ridge Brooklyn, NY 11209
Cosmetic Dentistry Center in Brooklyn, NY
We provide advanced surgical restorative, cosmetic and reconstructive procedures for adults and children. Specializing in dental implants as well as most complex surgical procedures.
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