Everyone, from children to adults, is susceptible to tooth decay and cavities. Children are more prone to dental cavities because their primary teeth can dissolve more rapidly in an acidic environment. This is why it is essential for us to have an understanding of Fluoride and how it is significant to our oral health.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth Enamel is the outer layer that protects our teeth, and it is made from calcium and phosphate. It is strengthened by saliva, which is a rich source of calcium and phosphate. Our teeth are exposed to bacteria and they can be harmful to our teeth.
When we eat sugary snacks or bread, our teeth are exposed to cavity-causing bacteria. These bacteria attack the tooth enamel and form a layer of plaque over our teeth. It also eliminates calcium and phosphate, making our teeth more prone to decay and cavities. Once the layer of enamel is dissolved, the interior layer of your tooth, called dentin, is exposed to the bacteria. This can eventually result in decay. But saliva cripples the attack by providing with the calcium and phosphate which was stripped off by the bacteria.
What is Fluoride and how does it help?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. It is a chemical ion of fluorine, and fluorine is the 13th most abundant element found in the earth’s crust. Fluorine does not exist in its free state but in combination with other elements as a fluoride compound. Certain fluoride compounds, if present in your mouth, can prevent cavities and even reverse early tooth decay. Studies have shown that adding fluoride to the community water system prevents 25 percent of tooth decay in adults and children.
Our source of Fluoride is toothpaste and drinking water. It reacts with calcium and phosphate, once it is in our enamel and forms fluorapatite, which prevents the formation of cavities. This is how fluoride protects our teeth from decay.
· Strengthens Enamel
This involves a complex chemical process that uses fluoride. Our enamel is made of fluorapatite which makes it less susceptible to bacterial acid. Fluoride contributes to its formation by transforming hydroxyapatite into fluorapatite, which is less soluble and thus slows down the process of decay.
· Slows Down the Plaque-forming Bacteria
The plaque-forming bacteria attack your teeth by forming an acidic layer over your teeth and destroying the enamel. When your mouth becomes too acidic, fluoride ionizes to form fluorine ions. Then these ions form compounds with hydrogen ions, which are found in the acid. This compound is significant in inhibiting the bacteria and reduces their ability to consume sugar and produce more acid.
· Promotes Remineralization
If the environment of your mouth is too acidic, your teeth are not able to use calcium and phosphates. This prevents the process of Remineralization. Fluoride has certain properties which attracts partially dissolved minerals. So it forms a layer over your teeth which were damaged by the acid, and ionized fluoride attracts the calcium and phosphate ions towards the teeth. This results in Remineralization.
· Saves Money
We all know how expensive dental treatments can get. This is why we are advised to take preventive measures and prevent dental procedures that are painful and can leave a hole in our pocket. According to research done by ADA, the cost of a single dental filling is more than the average lifetime cost for a single person to fluoridate a water supply.
So let fluoride help you save some money and also save you from the hassle of a complicated dental procedure.
How can you benefit the most from Fluoride?
· Fluoridated Water
As fluoride is dissolved in water, drinking water is a great source of the compound. There are many communities that hike up fluoride content in water to enjoy its dental benefits. Water Fluoridation is the process through which fluoride levels are adjusted in the water at a recommended level to make it ideal for dental health. In the U.S., a range of 0.7 to 1.2 parts of fluoride per million (ppm) is maintained in water. Children have trouble with spitting out toothpaste after brushing their teeth, and too much toothpaste can be toxic for them. This is why fluoridated water is the optimal option for them. You can also check with your water provider to find out whether you are supplied with fluoridated water or not. You can also ask your dentists for supplements of fluoride if you are drinking filtered water. Too much fluoride can lead to discoloration, and this is why it is important to consult your dentist before supplementing fluoride.
· Brushing twice a day
Adults can incorporate this habit in their daily life to delay the onset of tooth decay. Brushing your teeth gets rid of the plaque and also the food stuck between your teeth. It is the food stuck between your teeth that bacteria attack on and uses to damage the enamel. Toothpaste also provides fluoride in a small concentration and helps to prevent decay. Make sure you are using the toothpaste that has fluoride or ADA seal. The ADA seal means that the product has been tested and has the right amount of fluoride to promote your dental health. You also need to make sure that you are getting small doses of it every day.
· Using Mouthwash
You can ensure better protection by adding a mouthwash for your oral hygiene. Also, remember that children are not supposed to use mouthwash unless it is prescribed by the dentist. Usually, fluoridated water works well enough for children.
It has been scientifically proven that fluoride is optimal for dental health. It was first introduced in Public Health in the 1950s, and ever since then, a lot of research has been done on it. In order to advance their medical study on Fluoride, one will have to conduct healthcare surveys.
It is from the healthcare surveys that we will be able to reach out to a vast number of people and gather data. Medical data is the driving force in carrying forward any kind of research. It has played an important role in making continuous improvements and rapid advancements by gathering information from the masses.