Fluoride has been a controversial topic for some – but we want to elaborate on its importance and what previous studies and research have shown to help shed light on the issue.
The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted several studies on fluoride and its effectiveness in preventing cavities and came up with this conclusion: that the addition of fluoridated water helps to decrease tooth decay.
We’ll break the reason down for you. Two processes occur in your mouth that involves bacteria, sugars, and plaque: demineralization and re-mineralization.
When the bacteria in our mouth work to attack our tooth’s enamel, then demineralization is occurring. When minerals act to strengthen what was broken down – this is called re-mineralization. When the re-mineralization process occurs, any fluoride in your mouth will be used up to further strengthen your tooth’s enamel and increase resistance to acid attacks.
Fluoride should be seen as a critical factor in helping to promote tooth enamel strengthening. However, fluoride is to be thought of as a prevention tool. It cannot and does not reverse tooth decay that has already been classified as a cavity. Cavities should be filled with a material of your choice (often composite resin as opposed to metal/silver/amalgam) in order to prevent the decay from spreading further.
Children can also benefit from fluoride usage. Pediatric dentists often recommend waiting until about age 2 where a “pea-sized” amount of fluoride toothpaste may be introduced.
Fluoride can be found in water (most of the US have fluoridated tap water), mouth rinses, toothpastes, and certain foods.