Fluoride is one of the most popular ingredients in a number of different dental hygiene products. The mineral is well-known for its ability to help ward off cavity development, and can be found in municipal water supplies across the US. Though most people can easily recognize the name, fluoride, not as many people understand how it works to protect teeth from the most common chronic disease in the world. The secret of fluoride’s effectiveness lies in how it interacts with your teeth’s natural defenses, strengthening them against the bacteria that dwell in your mouth.
Cavities, and the Components of a Smile
Since tooth decay affects over 90% of adults in the United States, there’s a good chance that you’ve had at least one in your life. Tooth decay describes a process by which bacteria infect and eat away your tooth’s structure. To reach your tooth, certain germs convert organic compounds, like sugar, into acids that attack the protective enamel surrounding your teeth. Acid also depletes your teeth of the minerals they need to form and fortify their outer layer. Enamel is the most resilient substance your body produces, and after acid dissipates, it can usually regain strength as your teeth replenish their minerals.
Fluoride in Hygiene
As the most mineralized substance in your body, enamel is made almost entirely of calcium and phosphate crystals, along with other trace minerals. As a naturally-occurring mineral, fluoride can bond to the weak, acid-ravished layers of enamel, offering increased protection for your teeth against damaging acid attacks. For fluoride to be effective, however, you must brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and control your snacking habits to minimize your teeth’s exposure to acid. Besides toothpaste and city water supplies, you can also find fluoride in certain mouthrinse brands, or Dr. Stewart might recommend fluoride treatments applied directly to teeth with significantly weak enamel.
About Your Livonia Dentist:
James Steward, DDS, and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.