The benefits of fluoride

The Benefits of Fluoride

December 14, 2019

From Charlie Brown cartoons to elementary school videos starring villain bacteria and superhero toothbrushes: we’ve heard from childhood on that fluoride is an essential part of dental care. But what is fluoride, exactly? What does it do for our teeth, what’s the best way to get it? Here are 8 facts to know about the benefits of fluoride and drinking water with fluoride.

  1. Fluoride helps prevent cavities by strengthening tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is a crystalline substance called hydroxylapatite, the main calcium phosphate mineral that makes up our bones and teeth. Unfortunately, tooth enamel is under constant attack by acid-producing bacteria in our mouths. In a constant cycle, our bodies rebuild—re-mineralize—weakened enamel, but sometimes not well enough and tooth decay results. Here’s why fluoride is known as nature’s cavity fighter: Fluoride swoops in during remineralization and takes the place of the hydroxl molecule, binding enamel to teeth more strongly.

  2. The best ways to get the fluoride you need are to:
    • Drink tap water
    • Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes. Children can use fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first tooth appears – the size of a grain of rice until age 3, a pea size for everyone over 3.
    • Have a dentist apply fluoride to your teeth directly with a varnish, gel, foam or rinse.
    • Take a fluoride supplement prescribed by your dentist if your water supply isn’t fluoridated
  3. Fluoride is natural.Fluoride is a mineral compound found in the environment all around us, naturally present in rocks, soil and water. Many of the foods we eat contain small amounts of fluoride, from oatmeal to grapes to asparagus to most seafood and more. Fluoride occurs naturally in the body, too, as calcium fluoride. It’s a nutrient we need to build strong bones and teeth.

  4. Fluoride works 24/7.Fluoride combines with your saliva so that your teeth are getting a constant fluoride bath. This provides continuous protection against bacteria. When you use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, or a dental professional applies it directly to the surface of your teeth, you’re getting your fluoride topically.

  5. It’s difficult to get enough fluoride by diet alone.Although fluoride is naturally present in water and in many of the foods we eat, the amount is small and varied. Even foods with the highest amount of fluoride contribute only 2% to 4% of daily adequate intake per serving. This is why many communities provide the right balance of fluoride to their drinking water so that everyone has access to this amazing benefit.

  6. Drinking water with fluoride is proven safe and effective. Water with fluoride has been researched and provided for 75 years. The CDC declared fluoridation of drinking water one of the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements” of the 20th century. The ADA states on that “More than 70 years of scientific research has consistently shown that an optimal level of fluoride in community water is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults.”

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