So, What is Fluoride Exactly? (Plus Why You Should Be Using It Regularly For Your Teeth)

what is fluoride | benefits of fluoride | why fluoride is important

We all like to make a good first impression on others. And what better way to do that than by having a fantastic smile? So, it’s to our benefit to take care of our oral health every day. A substantial part of that regimen is the use of fluoride. But what is fluoride anyway? It’s important we know why fluoride is important for your teeth.

Fluoride: Natural and Abundant

Approximately 71% of the Earth is water, both saltwater and freshwater. In all that water is fluoride, the 13th most plentiful mineral on Earth. Fluorine is fluoride in gaseous form, while fluorite is this element in crystal form.

Our teeth are made up of many different minerals and elements, like aluminum, copper, nickel, iodine, nickel, lead, manganese, selenium – and fluoride. Most of these minerals make up the hard outer shell of our teeth called the enamel, which protects the pulp and dentin inside our teeth. They do a good job of it until we neglect our oral health. 

Benefits of Fluoride

We make choices every day about our health in general, including our dental health. We skip brushing our teeth, we avoid flossing, we forget to buy toothpaste with fluoride, and we procrastinate instead of making an appointment for our next dental cleaning and exam. Or we do all the right things to protect our teeth as much as possible so we can keep them and put our best smiles forward every day!

benefits of fluoride | what is fluoride | why fluoride is important

The results of making poor dental choices are far-reaching. Plus, the benefits of fluoride and the ease of adding it to your daily life should encourage you to make positive choices to take care of your teeth. The natural fluoride covering our teeth can be destroyed by sugar that isn’t removed regularly. Sugar and plaque create acid that eats away at the teeth’s enamel layer, causing the minerals to be lost. This demineralization causes white spots on the teeth. Bacteria can then get into the pulp of the tooth through these weakened places; the result is cavities. If regular dental visits aren’t happening either, teeth become infected and are then lost.

Fluoride helps prevent this decay by redepositing this important mineral to your teeth. This remineralization makes the teeth more resistant to the destructive effects of sugar and poor hygiene. There is also evidence that the addition of fluoride can reverse early tooth decay. So, the addition of fluoride to your daily oral hygiene not only reverses the damage already done but it works to prevent additional cavities. 

Trips to the dentist can be reduced if you can work fluoride into your daily routine, too. The gums and teeth will be healthier so they won’t need as many cleanings. Regular cleanings will take less time and be more pleasant, too. And another great benefit is fewer dental visits means less expense!

There is even more good news that supports the use of fluoride. The American Dental Association reports that tooth decay has been significantly reduced in the past 20-30 years. The primary reason is the increased use of fluoride as part of regular dental visits and hygiene. There are several ways to add this mineral to your daily routine.

Adding Fluoride to Your Teeth

what is fluoride | benefits of fluoride | why fluoride is important

There are a number of ways to add fluoride to teeth. There are topical applications and systemic applications. Here are how each is applied or added:

  • Topical applications are applied directly to your teeth, such as a fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office and fluoride products like toothpaste and mouthwash. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride treatments at your dentist every 3, 6, or 12 months. Your dentist will set a schedule based on your daily oral hygiene routine. They may also prescribe a rinse or gel to use at home If you’re at high risk for cavities.

Fluoride treatments cost between $20 -$50. And because the treatment is classified as a prevention treatment, some dental insurance policies do cover the cost of treatment.

  • Systemic applications are when fluoride is ingested as part of your diet such as drinking fluoridated water.  According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the recommended daily amounts of fluoride:  
    • Birth to 3 years of age: 0.1 to 1.5 milligrams (mg)
    • 4 to 6 years of age: 1 to 2.5 mg
    • 7 to 10 years of age: 1.5 to 2.5 mg
    • Adolescents and adults: 1.5 to 4 mg

About 73.0% of people in the U.S. with public water access drink water fortified with fluoride. Other sources are tea, food cooked in water, fish with bones, and baby formula.

Fluoride and You

Fluoride is plentiful and it is proven to benefit our teeth in several important ways. Our oral health affects our overall health, too, so it’s to our benefit to take care of our teeth in any way we can. The addition of fluoride to our dental hygiene routine reaps rewards for the rest of our lives.

Contact our team at TLC Dental Center to schedule an appointment for your next routine dental exam and make sure to ask about fluoride treatment while you are here!