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Topical Fluoride: How Fluoride Works

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps to strengthen your tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Here, our team of Summerside dentists explains how fluoride treatment can work to protect your teeth.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a mineral that is found in all natural water sources. It reaches the groundwater of an area by leaching through the soil and rocks in its ionic form: fluorine.

When used as directed by a dentist or within the context of community water fluoridation programs, fluoride is a safe and effective agent that can be used to prevent and control dental caries (cavities).

How is fluoride good for teeth?

Your tooth enamel continuously goes through a demineralization and remineralization process.

Demineralization described the loss of minerals from you tooth's enamel. This happens when acids formed by bacteria and plaque attack the outer enamel of your teeth. 

During remineralization, minerals like calcium, phosphate, and fluoride are redeposited to the enamel when we drink water or eat certain mineral-rich foods.

When your teeth aren't sufficiently remineralized (this happens when you don't consume enough of the required minerals for this process_, you may develop tooth decay.

Fluoride, then, helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid. In some cases, it can also help reverse decay that has already begun.

For children under six years old, fluoride becomes incorporated into the developing permanent teeth, making it more difficult for acids to demineralize them.

When is fluoride intake most important?

It's important for children and infants between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride. During this timeframe, their primary, permanent teeth are growing in.  

However, adults benefit from fluoride, too. Topical fluoride from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments are as important in fighting tooth decay as they are for strengthening developing teeth.

Fluoride Treatment At Your Dentist’s Office

Sometimes, fluoride consumed via water and food is not sufficient to protect the teeth, and in these cases, additional fluoride application is advisable.

While there are many over-the-counter fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes, these contain relatively low levels of fluoride.

stronger concentrations are available by prescription and your dentist may apply a fluoride treatment in stronger concentrations at their dental office.

At a dental clinic, fluoride treatments will generally involve a single application of foam, varnish or gel to your teeth. Varnishes are painted on the teeth, while foams are put into a dental tray and then applied to the teeth for a few minutes. Gels can either be painted on or applied via a tray.

If you have questions about how fluoride works, please contact our Summerside dentists today to book a consultation.

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