Fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay.
How Does Fluoride Protect Teeth?
Fluoride benefits both children and adults. Before teeth break through the gums, the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements makes tooth enamel (the hard surface of the tooth) stronger, making it easier to resist tooth decay. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit.
After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides what is called a “topical” benefit.
In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth with tiny amounts of fluoride that help rebuild weakened tooth enamel.
How Do I Get Fluoride?
Every capital city in Australia, including Brisbane since the end of 2009 has fluoridated its water supply to help reduce the rate of tooth decay among children and adults. The benefits of fluoride remain the most effective way to keep your teeth healthy.
While brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is the most effective way to receive fluoride, taking it through tap water has a considerable effect on the ability of your teeth to resist decay. Fluoride top ups are available at your dental appointments; your dentist can apply high-fluoride products such as gels, foams and varnishes to your teeth at your routine examination and clean appointments.
Your dentist may also suggest the use of additional fluoride through supplements or high strength toothpastes or mouthwashes, if your teeth are partially susceptible to decay.
Is fluoride safe?
Fluoride is a mineral that’s found in rocks and soil, vegetables and grains, as well as in fresh and salt water. The fluoride found in the environment however is not sufficient on its own to protect your teeth, which is why small supplemental amounts are added to the water supply, as well as into toothpaste, gels and other dental products.
Overall, the benefits of fluoride are considerable to keep your teeth healthy. You need to brush twice a day, floss, maintain a healthy, balanced diet, and visit your friendly dentist on a regular basis.