Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride kills the bacteria in our mouths that cause tooth decay and it helps to re-harden enamel. Fluoride naturally occurs in most foods and community water supplies.
Fluoride works in 2 ways:
Topical fluoride comes in the form of gels, toothpaste and mouth rinses. Topical fluoride helps kill bacteria in our mouths, but it also helps to harden enamel. In our office, we recommend children receive a fluoride treatment twice a year, usually at their cleaning appointments. We recommend children receive this treatment until they are 16 years old. After this age, fluoride still has great benefits, but we allow each patient to decide whether or not they prefer to receive fluoride later in life.
Systemic fluoride is fluoride that we ingest (eat). This comes from water and other foods. Fish, tea, chicken and many organic vegetables are found to be high in fluoride content. Systemic fluoride can work on developing teeth to strengthen them. However, most of the positive effects of fluoride come from the topical action of this important mineral.
Fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It’s just another useful tool in our arsenal of anti-cavity weapons. Brushing twice a day, flossing and limited sugar intake are the primary defenses against tooth decay.