Fluoride is used to strengthen the enamel of our teeth. Though our teeth feel flat and hard to us, if you were to look at enamel under a microscope you can see that it is composed of mashed together mineral fragments. As we use our teeth they lose bits of minerals, and are therefore always rebuilding. Our teeth get the minerals needed through foods and drinks we consume. Fluoride in our toothpastes, or other added treatments can assist our teeth in this rebuilding and provide them the resources to be healthier and stronger. At South Austin Dental, we may offer a fluoride rinse, varnish or treatment to boost this enamel rebuilding if we notice spots of enamel that are thin or could use a boost.
Enamel is the strongest material in our body, yes, stronger than bone. Even still, we are demanding on our teeth. We use them to chew food multiple times. Additionally, our teeth also make hundreds of fleeting touches against each other daily when we speak or even breathe. Finally, we have been known to occasionally chew on non-food items as well, such as pencils, pens, fingernails, to open packages, and more. All of these actions, both normal and not as normal, cause wear and tear to our teeth.
Fluoride is Effective in Preventing Decay
Fluoride has a century of research to show its effectiveness in helping us have stronger enamel and healthier teeth protecting us from bacteria and decay. In the early 20th century, as dentistry began to advance, it was noted that some towns had considerably healthier teeth than others. It was quickly discovered that the difference was the natural fluoride levels in the drinking water. Over the next several decades, many cities and towns began to add fluoride to the drinking water and the difference was clear. People who drank water with a small amount of fluoride had better teeth and less cavities or decay. It should be noted that fluoride can be overused, causing problems as well, and it can even make you sick if consumed in too high of levels, so there is a correct amount.
Fluoride treatments may be prescribed following your regular dental cleaning and exam. We can discuss treatment following your exam. Applying fluoride to your teeth is done quickly and painlessly. We may recommend a fluoride treatment to patients of any age once they have grown teeth, meaning it is approved for children as long as they are under our care. Treatment is simple, we may apply a gel, a varnish or simply ask you to swish around a rinse. In some cases, we may discuss a prescribed fluoride toothpaste if we see that it could be beneficial. This may be especially true if your home uses well water, and is not hooked up to the city water system.
In recent years, questions have been raised about fluoride, making some patients uncomfortable. We are happy to answer any questions, and discuss the benefits of fluoride with you. If applied correctly, the risk of becoming ill from fluoride is minimal.