How Fluoride Helps Prevent Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can be prevented if a series of steps is taken every day. Dentists encourage their clients to brush and floss, but there are other ways to discourage tooth decay. Regular dental care goes a long way to keeping the mouth healthy. Another tool in the dental health toolbox is fluoride.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and is considered to be one of the most abundant minerals available on Earth. In small doses, it is generally thought to be a helpful addition to a person's dental health.

How It Affects Teeth

Fluoride can have both good and bad influences on teeth. While the exact amount varies based on age and weight, a person who ingests between 0.8 and 1.2 milligrams of fluoride every day is less likely to develop a cavity. Fluoride helps strengthen the teeth and fights the bacteria which may lead to someone developing tooth decay. For this reason, many water companies will add fluoride to their supply before distribution.

However, if someone eats or drinks too much of this mineral it can cause a lot of trouble. Teeth may become weak and easily damaged. The enamel on the teeth can be eaten away and more destruction can occur. When fluoride is consumed in large quantities it can cause devastation to the teeth and bones. 

Where To Find Fluoride

Fluoride is a natural mineral which can be found all over the world. It is in seaweed, volcanoes, the Earth's crust and certain types of fish such as tuna. It can also be in fruits like strawberries and vegetables such as avocado depending on the types of pesticides used while the plants were growing. This mineral develops naturally in water, it occurs as a gas in the atmosphere, and is present in dirt. It is often present in small amounts in eggs. Fluoride is added to toothpaste and other dental care items to foster healthy teeth.

Occasionally, a doctor or a dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements. This is typically only done if their patients don't have access to this helpful mineral and if they are under 16 years old. They may live in an area without fluoridated water, have a diet low in fluoride, and are at a high risk of developing tooth decay.

When it is added to regular dental healthcare, fluoride can help prevent tooth decay. Brushing frequently, flossing, diets strong in the right amount of fluoride, and trips to the dentist are the best defense against developing cavities or other dental problems. For more information about fluoride and whether you are getting the right amount of the mineral, talk to a dentist like those at Kilby Family Dentistry.