Fluoride is a term often mentioned by dentists, however many patients may not understand what it is and it’s benefits to our oral health.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral present in the ground. Depending on your geographic location, some places have no fluoride while others have very high levels. The presence of this mineral in the ground means it may also be present in drinking water and the fruits and vegetables grown in that region.
Many minerals are important in aiding the human body to grow and function normally. We need a wide variety of minerals to maintain overall health, and fluoride, in particular, functions to build and maintain the health of our bones and teeth. Mineral deficiencies can often lead to medical concerns.
Why Do Our Teeth Need Fluoride?
Fluoride is a powerful remineralizing agent. To understand this, we need to first explain the dangers of demineralization, which is the process teeth undergo when attacked by cavity-causing bacteria or strong acids.
Teeth are hard, mineralized structures surrounding a chamber that contains nerves and blood vessels. Enamel covers the surface of our teeth and is the hardest substance in the human body. One of the few things that can destroy enamel is strong acid. Acids, whether produced by bacteria or applied directly to the teeth in our foods and drinks, breaks down enamel through demineralization.
Fluoride can reverse that process through remineralization. It adds minerals back into enamel, making our teeth stronger and more resistant to future acid attacks.
Are Fluoride Treatments Only for Children?
In addition to the fluoride you can receive through drinking water and your over-the-counter toothpaste, dentists offer professional strength fluoride applications for their patients. Professional fluoride treatments offer a high concentration of this beneficial mineral in a single dose that can be applied every six months (or more frequently) for patients at risk for cavities. Factors like past dental treatment, consumption of sugary or acidic foods or beverages, dry mouth, or poor oral care at home, all increase cavity risk.
People of all ages can benefit from fluoride application. Dentists typically apply it more commonly in young children and our elderly patients simply because those are the ages that naturally carry the highest risk for tooth decay.
Fluoride for Children
Children have a high risk for developing cavities because they do not yet have the manual skills and technique necessary to effectively remove dental plaque from every tooth. For this reason, dentists typically recommend professional fluoride applications for patients as young as two years old.
Fluoride for Elderly Patients
Professional fluoride treatments are especially advantageous in our elderly patients with decreased manual dexterity and dry mouth syndrome. The lack of saliva leads to a much higher risk for cavities, and an inability to manipulate a toothbrush well increases the risk even more.
Fluoride for All Ages
Healthy adult patients may also be recommended for professional fluoride treatments. The most common reasons a “typical” adult would need additional fluoride are high cavity risk, acid erosion, and sensitive teeth. Fluoride reduces sensitivity on teeth by hardening enamel and dentin to block out cold sensations. This helps your natural teeth stay healthy for longer.
Have questions? Need additional information? Looking for a Paducah Family Dentist? Give us a call at Johnson Family Dental. We are conveniently located at 2913 Lone Oak Road in Paducah. You can reach us by phone at (270) 554-2432. Johnson Family Dental is open Monday through Thursday from 8am to 5pm.