What is Fluoride?

Jul 31, 2013

It’s one of those things you hear about a lot at the dentist, and it gets discussed a lot in topics surrounding dentistry, but many people do not actually know what fluoride is and why we use it. Well, in reality fluoride is rather easy to explain. If you’re curious about fluoride and why it’s such a crucial part of dental care, read on to find out more about this dentist’s dream come true.

 

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, and a negative ion of the element Fluorine (which many former chemistry students may recognize). In the 1930s, water that was fluoridated through Sodium Fluoride (NaF) was discovered to have a positive impact on the deterrence of cavities in dental patients. Since then, fluoride has been used for a variety of purposes and benefits in the dental industry. It is believed to be especially important for the healthy development of the teeth of children.

 

What Does Fluoride Do?

Nowadays, we know more than just “fluoride is good for your teeth.” Today, we understand the science behind why fluoride can have a positive benefit on dental health. The benefits of fluoride for dental health fall into two main categories:

  • Prevention of Demineralization — Demineralization is the process that occurs when plaque creates an excess amount of acidic byproducts from the breakdown of sugars in the mouth. Essentially, demineralization is one of the main sources of cavities and other dental dilemmas. Fluoride has an inhibiting effect on on the process of demineralization. Though it won’t stop it entirely, a healthy amount of fluoride can help deter the spread of tooth decay and demineralization in the first place.

  • Promotion of Remineralization — Simply put, remineralization is the reinforcement of the enamel of your teeth. Remineralization happens naturally every day, but fluoride can help enhance and improve this process, causing an overall improvement to your dental health.

 

Where Do We Get Fluoride?

So we’ve established that fluoride is good for you, but you can’t just go buy pure fluoride in the store. Likewise, too much fluoride can actually be bad for you. So where can you get fluoride? Here are some common sources:

  • Water Fluoridation — Many area water supplies fluoridate their water for the prevention of cavities. Some may contain high levels, though, and for younger children, this could cause fluorosis in teeth.

  • Food Sources — Some foods contain fluoride: tea and food cooked in fluoridated water, for example, will contain small amounts of fluoride. Likewise, seawater has a significant fluoride content, so seafood typically contains fluoride, too.

  • Breast Milk & Formula — Again, fluoride is crucial for the development of small children. Breast milk and infant formula contains fluoride for the healthy development of teeth.

  • Fluoride Therapy — More a medical treatment in nature, many dentists offer a fluoride therapy treatment to patients who suffer from the potentially negative effects of severe demineralization, tooth decay or other dental disorders.

Are you interested in more information on fluoride or fluoride therapy treatment, or would you like to schedule an appointment with our office? As always, contact Noble Smile Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today to speak with our staff and schedule an appointment!