What is Fluoride?

posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 8/31/2022 in General

woman pointing to her healthy smile

You’ve heard of fluoride, but what is it exactly? We’re taking the mystery out of this common dental term and exploring its many benefits. Find out more about fluoride and why your dentist uses it.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that exists in soil, water, air, and in our teeth and bones. On the scientific level, it’s an ion of the chemical, fluorine. Fluoride naturally helps strengthen tooth enamel, minimize tooth decay, and prevent cavities, which is why it’s added to toothpaste and other dental products. 

What is Fluoride Used For?

Fluoride is used to help strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. The American Dental Association defines fluoride as “nature’s cavity fighter” because it stops cavities from developing. How? Fluoride rebuilds weak tooth enamel damaged by acidity, foods, and bacteria.

Fluoridated Water

For more than 75 years, many communities across the United Stated have been adding small amounts of fluoride to the water to help individuals improve their dental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking fluoridated water reduces cavities and tooth decay by about 25% in adults and children. In fact, community water fluoridation is recommended by a wide range of health organizations including the American Dental Association and World Health Organization.

Fluoride Benefits

In addition to cavity prevention, here are three more benefits of using fluoride for your oral health.

  1. Remineralize tooth enamel. When your mouth’s natural bacteria break down carbohydrates and sugary foods, they produce acid that breaks down your tooth enamel. This makes your teeth more susceptible to decay and cavities. The loss of minerals from your enamel is called demineralization. However, fluoride helps remineralize by bringing depleted minerals back to your enamel. 
  2. Reverse early tooth decay. Sometimes early tooth decay is reversible through consistent use of fluoride. Often at the first sign of a cavity or decay, your dentist may prescribe a special toothpaste or mouthwash containing more fluoride than the average dental products to reverse decay.
  3. Easier plaque removal. The Oral Health Foundation noted, “children who use fluoride when their teeth are developing, tend to have shallower grooves in their teeth.” This makes it easier to remove plaque and keep those teeth healthy for the long-term.

Professional Fluoride Treatments

Professional fluoride treatments can keep your teeth healthy and reduce your need for intensive procedures to fill cavities, remove plaque, or repair damaged and broken teeth

During this quick  treatment, fluoride gel or foam is applied to your teeth with a toothbrush or swab. Once fluoride is applied, you’ll need to wait for 30 minutes to let it completely absorb. You will not be able to eat or drink during that time to avoid swallowing fluoride.

Talk to a Kimball & Beecher Dentist About Fluoride

If you need extra help fighting cavities, it may be time to consider a fluoride treatment. At Kimball & Beecher we offer many fluoride treatment options. Contact us today to schedule your fluoride treatment.

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

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