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Fluoride & Your Teeth

Jun 16

Written by:
6/16/2018 12:22 PM  RssIcon

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is essential for tooth development and the prevention of tooth decay. Most of us have access to fluoride in our drinking water; however, it may not be a sufficient amount. That's one reason why we may recommend a fluoride supplement and/or the use of toothpastes and other dental products that contain this important mineral.

At Doctor Smiles Orthodontics, our experienced doctor and her talented team want you to be aware of all the important aspects of dental and oral health. So please continue reading to learn more about fluoride, the important role that it plays, and how you can make sure you and your kids are getting enough.

How Fluoride Helps

The protective outer layer on your teeth, called enamel, is often subject to attacks from acids found in certain foods and beverages like sodas and citrus fruits. Additionally, sometimes decay-causing bacteria trapped in the mouth creates acid from sugar. This bacteria congregates in dental plaque and feeds on sugar that is not cleansed from your mouth. When metabolizing (breaking down) sugar, the bacteria produce acids that can eat through tooth enamel. This is how cavities form. However, when fluoride is present it becomes part of the crystalline structure of tooth enamel, hardening enamel and making it more resistant to acid attacks. Fluoride can even help repair small cavities that are already forming.

Delivering Fluoride to the Teeth

Once a tooth has erupted it can be strengthened by fluoride topically (on the surface). In a dentist’s office, a doctor can paint fluoride right onto freshly cleaned teeth then let it sit for a few minutes for maximum effectiveness. Past that, on a regular basis toothpastes with fluoride are great for ensuring daily fluoride exposure. There are also fluoride supplements out there that, like the water you drink, can help you ingest the mineral. (This might be a better choice for children than adults, as their teeth can absorb the mineral as they develop.)

How Much Is Too Much?

Newly forming teeth that are over-exposed to fluoride beneath the gum line can develop a condition called enamel fluorosis, which is characterized by a streaked or mottled appearance. Mild fluorosis takes the form of white spots that are hard to see. In more severe cases (which are rare), the discoloration can be darker with a pitted texture. The condition is not harmful, but may eventually require cosmetic dental treatment. Tooth decay, on the other hand, is harmful to dental/oral health and can also be quite painful in severe cases. The risk for fluorosis ends by the time your child is about 9, when all the permanent teeth have fully formed.

Keep Your Teeth Healthy & Bright!

Maintaining healthy teeth is important at all ages. As a family orthodontics practice, we want to do everything in our power to protect our patients’ teeth so that our orthodontic treatment options have the best possible results. Fluoride is an important part of healthy tooth development, so make sure your teeth and your children’s teeth are getting enough.

Please check back on our blog soon for more important information about dental and oral health, and contact us today to schedule an appointment in our Tucson, AZ office!


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Fluoride & Your Teeth
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