Fluoride is a mineral that protects your teeth against cavities by making the outside surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to acid attacks, which cause tooth decay. When you consume fluoride, it is absorbed into your tooth enamel, making it stronger. Fluoride also helps repair (remineralize) early cavities (the earliest stage of tooth decay).
Fluoride is important for people of all ages. It helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of their teeth more resistant to acid attacks. Fluoride also helps to repair (remineralize) early cavities before they become bigger problems.
Most people get the fluoride they need by drinking fluoridated water or using products that contain fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. You can also get fluoride treatments from your dentist.
What Is Fluoride’s Effect on Teeth?
Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. The fluoride ion is taken up into the hydroxyapatite (crystalline mineral of tooth enamel) structure, replacing some of the hydroxide ions. This makes the hydroxyapatite more resistant to acids.
Fluoride also helps to repair (remineralize) early cavities before they become big problems. When a tooth is damaged by acid attack, small amounts of the hydroxyapatite are lost from the tooth surface. If fluoride is present during this time, it can help to replace the lost hydroxyapatite.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Fluoride?
At high levels, fluoride can be harmful. However, the level of fluoride in fluoridated water is safe for people of all ages and poses no health risks.
Excessive fluoride intake can lead to a condition called fluorosis. This condition causes white spots on the teeth. In severe cases, the spots can become darker and cause the enamel to break down. Fluorosis usually occurs during tooth development, so it is important that children do not consume too much fluoride while their teeth are developing.
It is also important not to use too much fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash. Too much fluoride can cause white spots on teeth (fluorosis). It is best to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children under three years old, and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children over three years old. Supervise your child’s brushing to make sure they are not swallowing too much toothpaste.
If you have any concerns about fluorosis or other risks associated with fluoride, talk to your dentist or healthcare provider.
Do I Need Fluoride if I Have Good Oral Health?
Fluoride is important for people of all ages, even those with good oral health. It helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of their teeth more resistant to acid attacks. Fluoride also helps to repair (remineralize) early cavities before they become bigger problems.
How Do I Get Fluoridated Water?
Fluoridated water is water that contains fluoride at a level that is safe for people of all ages. Most public water systems in the United States are fluoridated. You can check with your local water supplier to see if your water is fluoridated.
If you do not have access to fluoridated water, you can still get the benefits of fluoride by using products that contain fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. You can also get fluoride treatments from your dentist.
What If I Am Concerned About Fluoride?
If you are concerned about fluoride, talk to your dentist or healthcare provider. They can help you determine if fluoride is right for you and your family.