Why Do Dentists Use Fluoride?

Do you know what fluoride is?

Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen the enamel of your teeth. Fluoride is found in many foods that we eat, as well as in our tap water. In the dental world, fluoride is known for its ability to prevent cavities from developing, and for keeping our teeth strong and healthy. Many dental products, like toothpaste and mouthwash, also contain fluoride as an added benefit.

Each and every day, your teeth go through a process of demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization occurs through things like acid attacking your teeth, bruxism, and other bad habits that damage your enamel. Remineralization occurs when fluoride, phosphates, and calcium are introduced back into our mouths through the things we consume. Unfortunately, if you experience too much demineralization, and not enough remineralization, your enamel will erode and lead to an increase in cavities.

If you do not naturally receive enough fluoride, or have a predisposition to cavities, you may want to consider receiving a professional application or fluoride supplement.

A professional fluoride application is a dental procedure where your dentist applies fluoride to the surface of your teeth in the form of a foam, gel, or mouth rinse. For young children, ages 6 months to 16 years, who live in an area where fluoride is not present in tap water, or who have a history of cavities, a fluoride supplement may be recommended. A fluoride supplement is by prescription only, and are available as lozenges, tablets, or drops.

In addition to children, there are many groups of people who should consider additional fluoride treatment. These people include those who have the following:

  • Xerostomia
  • Periodontal disease
  • A history of cavities
  • Braces or orthodontic treatment
  • Crowns or bridges

The best way to determine if you are a candidate for addition fluoride treatment is to check with your dentist.

It is important to note that it is possible to use or consume too much fluoride.

With this in mind, it is important for parents to supervise their children when using products that contain fluoride. If you use too much fluoride, it can actually cause defects in your teeth and discoloration. This is known as fluorosis. Fluorosis occurs when your teeth are forming, typically in children under 6 years of age.