What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that naturally occurs in rocks, soil, and even some foods and water – it’s the simplest ionic form of the trace element fluorine! When fluoride is applied to the teeth, it strengthens the enamel and can even reverse early decay.
How Does Fluoride Help My Teeth?
Every day, your teeth are engaged in a constant battle between the processes of demineralization (losing minerals) and remineralization (gaining minerals). The former happens when you consume carbohydrates like sugar – which in turn feed acid-releasing bacteria that attack your tooth’s hard surface layer of enamel, causing it to lose precious minerals like fluoride, calcium, and phosphate and slowly wear away. Remineralization is when these crucial minerals are redeposited whenever you eat or drink substances containing them. If there’s too much demineralization without enough remineralization happening to repair your tooth enamel, your teeth will decay.
Fluoride works like a power-up for your teeth, making the enamel more resistant to the acids released by plaque bacteria and sugar. It can even speed up the remineralization process and disrupt acid production! While it can’t actually repair tooth tissue that’s already been lost, it significantly strengthens the existing layer of enamel. According to the American Dental Association, it can prevent tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults!