For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.
In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.
Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a safe compound found throughout nature-from the water we drink and air we breathe, to many kinds of foods.
Fluoride is absorbed into structures, such as bones and teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to fractures and decay. A process in your body called “remineralization” uses fluoride to repair damage caused by decay.
How Do I Get Fluoride?
Just drinking public water will provide a certain measure of fluoride protection. But for years, health professionals have endorsed the practice of supplementing our intake with certain dietary products, and topical fluorides in many types of toothpaste and oral mouthwash rinses. Certain beverages such as tea and soda may also contain fluoride. Certain kinds of dental varnishes and gels may also be applied directly to teeth to boost fluoride intake.
Fluoride at Your Dental Office
At each of your dental visits, until the age of 18, your dentist or hygienist will apply a fluoride treatment to your teeth. This concentrated fluoride should remain on your teeth for one minute and should not be rinsed away for at least a half an hour. This fluoride will strengthen the enamel and make your teeth more resistant to decay.