Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water, soil, and some foods. It is also added to many public water supplies and oral care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. It is essential for good oral health because it helps to prevent tooth decay.
How It Works
Fluoride works by strengthening tooth enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth. When it comes into contact with enamel, it forms a protective barrier that makes teeth more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria. It also helps to remineralize enamel, which is the process of repairing early damage to tooth enamel.
Fluoride has been shown to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 25% to 40%. It is especially beneficial for children, as their teeth are still developing and more susceptible to decay.
There are many sources including:
- Public water supplies: In the United States, about 70% of people drink fluoridated water.
- Oral care products: Fluoride is added to most toothpastes and mouthwashes.
- Food: Some foods, such as fish, tea, and grapes, naturally contain fluoride.
Fluoride is safe when used in the recommended amounts. However, too much can cause fluorosis, a condition that can cause white spots or lines on teeth. Fluorosis is usually harmless, but it can be unsightly.
Recommendations for Use
- Children: Children should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Children under 6 years old should not use mouthwash unless directed by a dentist.
- Adults: Adults should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
- Infants: Infants should not be given fluoride supplements unless prescribed by a doctor.
Talking to Your Dentist
If you have any concerns about, talk to your dentist. We can help you determine the best way to protect your oral health!