What’s the Deal with Fluoride?
You’ve probably heard about fluoride, and that’s it’s great for cavity prevention. But you might be wondering what it is, and how it works. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that is found in our soil, some bodies of water, and in some foods we eat. Many cities add fluoride to the water supply, because studies have shown that fluoridated water helps prevent tooth decay. The amount of fluoride needed to prevent decay is very small and perfectly safe to drink. Get in touch with your community water district to see if your city has fluoridated water. If your drinking water does not contain fluoride, let your dentist know. Your dentist might give you fluoride tablets or drops to give your child.
Another important way we get fluoride is through the use of fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist can also give you a fluoride treatment at your twice-yearly dental visit. This involves putting a gel on the teeth that contains a higher amount of fluoride than you would find in toothpaste. It’s a great way to get extra protection against cavities until your next dental visit.
How Does Fluoride Prevent Cavities?
Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, which is the hard outer coating of our teeth. When we eat sugar, bacteria in our mouth form acids that eat away at this enamel. Eventually a hole can form in our tooth. This is a cavity. Using fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water are safe, effective ways of preventing cavities in kids and adults.
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