Tooth Decay

Fluoride and Tooth Decay

Fluoride and Tooth Decay

NYC Dental Office – Marina Liberchuk, DMD
You may think that once a tooth’s enamel starts to decay that there is nothing you can do to reverse that process. This is not true! Just because you have some tooth decay does not mean that you will necessarily have a cavity develop.

What is the magical substance the reverses tooth decay? It’s fluoride!

There has been some controversy in recent years regarding fluoride being added to community water supplies. Adding fluoride to local water supplies is similar to adding iodine to salt, vitamin D to milk, calcium to orange juice, and folic acid to bread.

Over 100 health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, The World Health Organization, and the American Dental Association, have recognized the health benefits of adding fluoride to tap water.

How fluoride helps reverse decay?
How does fluoride help? First, you need to learn about the structure of the tooth.

The outer covering of our teeth is called enamel, which is made with calcium and phosphate. Our saliva also contains the same minerals as the enamel, and saliva helps keep our teeth healthy.

But then Halloween comes, and we can’t keep our hands out of the bag of peanut butter cups that are sitting on our kitchen counter. The sugar from the candy lands on our teeth, and to make a long story short, the calcium and phosphate become stripped from our tooth’s enamel.

As the calcium and phosphate disappear, holes appear on the surface of the enamel. Decay is formed.

If you receive fluoride, either in your drinking water or from your dentist, the fluoride works with your saliva to create a defense system to keep cavities from forming.

Where does fluoride come from?
Back in high school chemistry class, you should have learned about the chemical element of fluorine. You probably memorized that the symbol for it was “F,” and you never thought of it again. Fluorine is one of the top 20 most common elements in the Earth’s crust.

As you could probably guess by its name, fluoride is made from fluorine. When fluoride compounds make their way into your mouth, they can make your teeth stronger and prevent cavities. If that wasn’t exciting enough, scientists discovered that fluoride could even reverse early tooth decay.

How can you ensure you are getting the right amount of fluoride for your oral health?
Check to see if your community water source has fluoride added to it.

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste recommended by the American Dental Association.

Check to see if your mouthwash contains fluoride.

Ask your dentist if he or she recommends that you receive a fluoride treatment after every cleaning.

Fluoride is not a miracle cure
Do not assume that you can ignore your oral hygiene or put off seeing your dentist because fluoride will remove all your decay. That’s not how it works. As amazing as fluoride is, it only reverses the process of the deterioration during the beginning stages.

Schedule an appointment to see your dentist at least twice a year and keep on brushing!