How Fluoride Fights Cavities

fluoride and cavities

Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in the Earth’s crust. It is also found in ground and ocean water along with other sources, and it helps prevent tooth decay in people of all ages. Fluoride not only prevents tooth decay, it can even reverse it. The American Dental Association (ADA) has referred to it as “nature’s cavity fighter”.  Fluoridated toothpaste and your city’s tap water are likely the most effective cavity-prevention measures available today.

What Does Fluoride Do?

Dental plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that combines with food and drinks that contain sugar or starch, such as milk, bread, cookies, candy, soda, juice, and many others. Whenever we eat or drink something that contains sugar or starch, the bacteria uses those foods to produce acids that begin to eat away at the tooth’s hard outer surface, or enamel.

The minerals in our saliva, (calcium and phosphate), along with fluoride from toothpaste and tap water, helps the enamel repair itself by replacing minerals lost during an acid attack (remineralization). Our teeth go through this natural process of losing minerals (demineralization) and regaining minerals (remineralization) all day long.

Fluoride offers three methods of protection against decay.

  • Aiding tooth remineralization
  • Hardening teeth
  • It has an obstructive effect on the kinds of bacteria that cause cavities

In-Between Meal Snacking = Acid Attack on Your Teeth

If you nibble a lot between meals and drink soft drinks, energy drinks or juice throughout the day, your teeth are exposed to acid frequently. Food and drinks containing sugar and starches cause the protective enamel to continue to lose minerals throughout the day. Over time, a white spot might appear on your tooth where minerals have been lost. This is a sign of early decay, but tooth decay can be stopped or reversed at this point. Enamel can repair itself by using minerals from saliva, and fluoride from toothpaste or other sources, however, if the tooth decay process continues, more minerals are lost. Over time, the enamel is weakened and destroyed, forming a cavity, which is permanent damage that has to be repaired with a filling.

We Can Learn How to Care for Our Teeth from Past Civilizations

There is evidence that the people of Pompeii in 70 A.D., had nearly perfect teeth. Archeological studies attribute the good quality of their teeth to the fact that they had a low-sugar diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, along with fluorine in a local water source. Nutritious foods with very little sugar is a good formula for beautiful teeth during any time period, as cited in Business Insider.

Bottled Water Is Likely Not Fluorinated

If you only drink bottled water, you could be missing the decay-preventive benefits of fluoride, according to the American Dental Association. Many brands of bottled water aren’t fluoridated, so fluoride supplements might be needed to prevent cavities.

Regular Dental Check-ups Will Help You Know Where You Stand

Regular dental check-ups every six months are vital to your oral health and will indicate whether or not your teeth are lacking fluoride or prone to cavities. Dr. Terrance Wolbaum of Pioneer Hills Dental in Aurora, Colorado is a general and family dentist. He and his team are passionate about helping you and your family receive comprehensive care; focusing on prevention, tooth preservation, and awareness of your oral health.

Part of your check-up includes a professional cleaning of your teeth This prevents excessive plaque buildup, which if left untreated can lead to unhealthy gums and tooth decay. Follow this link to learn what to expect during an examination and digital x-rays at Pioneer Hills Dental.

During a routine examination, Dr. Wolbaum will also look for any evidence of the demineralization of your teeth. If you are having trouble with cavities and fluoride intake, he has several options to help bolster the amount of fluoride needed to protect your teeth, such as prescription fluoride toothpaste, in-office fluoride gel treatments, or oral fluoride supplements.

Fluoride Facts  

Here are some interesting facts about fluoride that you may or may not know:

  • Water that contains fluoride prevents tooth decay by replacing minerals loss in tooth enamel.
  • Fluoride reduces the ability of bacteria in your mouth to make acid.
  • Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride, so you get an extra exposure of it every time you brush.
  • Use a toothpaste that has the American Dental Association’s (ADA) “Seal of Approval.” This seal indicates that the ADA has reviewed details about the product and found its fluoride content to be appropriate.
  • Don’t rinse out immediately or vigorously after brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste. You’ll get more of an effect if you let it linger in your mouth.

Dr. Wolbaum and his entire team are dedicated to providing the highest quality of general and aesthetic dentistry available. When you visit Pioneer Hills Dental, you will experience everything that modern dentistry has to offer, including a comprehensive list of general, restorative and cosmetic dental care services to meet the needs of the whole family.

Call for details at (303) 766-8811 or to make an appointment. Our office is located at 5492 South Parker Road at the Pioneer Hills Shopping Center in Aurora, Colorado, with easy access for patients in the communities of Highlands Ranch, Aurora, Castle Rock and Lone Tree. You can bet when we offer you a drink of water at the end of your appointment, it will be fluoridated!