The Importance of Fluoride for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Most people don’t know that water naturally contains fluoride, although not usually at the required level to be effective. That’s why when it comes to public water systems, our government adds more to our water supply.

But what exactly is fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. It is absorbed into the tooth enamel and replenishes the minerals that are continually destroyed by acid-producing bacteria. For this reason, we have been adding fluoride to community water systems since the 1940s.  

Many studies in the seventy years since have shown a significant favorable impact on tooth decay in correlation with fluoridated water. However, the debate over the possible harmful effects of too much fluoride has led to the U.S. Public Health Service recommends a rate of not more than 0.7 mg per liter.

While we understand that fluoride binds to tooth enamel to make the tooth more resistant to acid breakdown, how it works and its efficacy are not entirely clear. Research does prove that it works topically, which is why it is often added to water, toothpaste, and mouthwash. The benefits of all these additional minuscule doses of fluoride is debated in the dental community, however. The most effective method of treatment is through direct topical application to the teeth in the form of a dental gel, foam or vanish.

Fluoride treatment is typically provided as a dental service in most clinics, or you can purchase products from your dentist that allow you to conduct at-home fluoride treatments. Surface treatment with fluoride coats the tooth, thus enabling the enamel to absorb the protective minerals and strengthen the enamel. Sometimes we even see the reversal of tooth decay. The most important thing to note, though is: if plaque is not removed from the teeth first, fluoride will not provide much dental help.

When You Need More than Fluoride 

Both children and adults who are at high risk of tooth decay need more than the fluoride found in the water
supply. In fact, people who fall into this category of tooth decay risk truly only benefit from fluoride applied directly to the teeth. It may also help to use American Dental Association-approved fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash. Having varnishes or gels applied by a dentist is highly recommended.  

The Dental Fitness Program

Our Dental Fitness Program is beneficial for patients at every level of dental health, but it is especially beneficial for dental patients with a high-risk of tooth decay. We emphasize proper at-home care, patient education and targeted dental treatment to minimize your risk of tooth decay. For dental patients concerned with decay, they must be aware that topical fluoride use only works if the plaque is brushed and flossed away from the tooth surface. Our Dental Fitness Program is geared to teaching you how to effectively care for yourself. Then fluoride will work. If you are frustrated with decay, our preventive programs, including sugar intake feedback and control, and the Dental Fitness Program, work. please call or email us. 

Are you concerned about tooth decay? If so, make an appointment with Dr. Hsu today to receive an examination and talk about a topical fluoride treatment, your daily oral hygiene regimen, and how we can improve your overall dental health through our Dental Fitness Program. Call today at (425) 882-1354.  

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