You’ve probably read a little about fluoride in school. You may see that your toothpaste has added fluoride. If you’re wondering how important fluoride is to your health and teeth, read on to learn more.
What Is Fluoride and What Does It Do?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. On the periodic table, it is element number 9. Most commonly, fluoride is added to municipal water to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. Fluoride strengthens the enamel of the tooth, especially in young children when teeth are in development. In older children and adults, fluoride protects teeth through a process called remineralization. This means that it helps replace enamel that breaks down over time. Bacteria in the mouth can erode teeth. Fluoride helps the body replenish enamel to protect teeth.
Do You Need To Use a Fluoride Toothpaste?
Most city water systems add fluoride to their water. This used to be enough to protect adult’s and children’s teeth. Today, more people drink bottled water or soft drinks, avoiding tap water. This makes it more difficult to get the recommended amount of fluoride. Adults need three to four milligrams daily. Children aged 4 to 13 need one to two milligrams each day, while smaller children shouldn’t get more than half a milligram.
Fluoridated toothpaste can help you get enough fluoride to your teeth to aid in strengthening them. You shouldn’t swallow toothpaste, so it doesn’t count towards the recommended daily amount. You should be eating foods that have fluoride, milk, eggs, red meat and yams and drink fluoridated water to ensure you get enough fluoride.
Who Needs Fluoride Treatments?
If your teeth are susceptible to cavities, your dentist can boost your enamel strength with fluoride treatments. Your dentist or hygienist will put fluoride on the teeth to boost the remineralization process. If you have experienced gum recession, this can help the exposed tooth become less susceptible to decay. Some dentists recommend fluoride treatments for patients who are going through radiation for cancer treatments. The radiation damages the salivary glands, which reduces the amount of saliva a person makes. This in turn increases the risk of cavities. Sensitive teeth benefit from the application of fluoride. The remineralization process reduces sensitivity.
Discuss your fluoride needs with your dentist. If you’ve had restorative work, you might benefit from a fluoride application to boost the remineralization process. Make an appointment with a dentist, like from John Redmond Orthodontics, to talk about your specific health needs and who can decide what dental treatments work for you.