We all know that fluoride is important for our dental health, but how much are we supposed to have, and where can we get it?
Flouride is in some mouthwashes, toothpastes, and tap water, but there are also different treatments available over the counter and by presciption. Choosing the treatment that is best for you can be an overwhelming decision.
Keep reading this guide to find answers to questions like “What makes fluoride so important?” and “How do I choose the treatment that is best for me?”
Why Fluoride is Important for Your Teeth
It may be hard to believe since it is impossible to see or feel, but your teeth are always going through processes called demineralization and remineralization. This means that they are losing and taking in minerals at all times.
When your saliva breaks down the food you eat, bacteria in your mouth produce a substance called plaque. Plaque later forms an acid that removes the necessary minerals from your enamel. When your teeth are exposed to minerals like phosphate, fluoride, or calcium, your enamel absorbs these and uses them to strengthen your teeth. Your teeth can find these in sources like food or dental treatments.
Flouride is an especially important nutrient for your teeth because it prevents the acids in your mouth from demineralizing your enamel. And if your dentist diagnoses decay early enough, an extra dose of fluoride can stop it in its tracks.
It’s also extra important for children to be exposed to plenty of fluoride while their teeth grow in. This helps to ensure that when their adult teeth grow in, they are well-fortified against damage.
What Fluoride Treatments are Available?
Tap Water: Tap water is a sufficient source of fluoride for many people. Most, but not all towns add fluoride to the city water supply. To check that your town is one of these, consult this CDC water system map.
OTC and Prescription Pastes and Rinses: Many toothpastes and rinses, both OTC and prescription, are fortified with fluoride. If your dentist thinks a prescription fluoride treatment is necessary for you, they will discuss this during your regular checkup.
In-Office Treatments: Your dentist can apply a fluoride gel, foam, or varnish while you’re in their office. These usually sit on your teeth for 1-4 minutes before they are rinsed away.
Supplements: In some cases, dentists prescribe fluoride supplements in order to ensure you get the recommended amount of fluoride.
How Do I Know if I Am Getting Enough Fluoride?
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends getting fluoride topically and internally. This means using a fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse in conjunction with drinking water or a supplement.
If you aren’t sure whether you’re getting the right amount of fluoride, consult with your dentist. They are experts at determining the amount of flouride that’s best for you. Your dentist will consider factors like how prone you are to decay and whether your city adds flouride to the water.
Ensuring that you are getting adequate fluoride is just one of the many reasons why you need to be visiting the dentist for regular checkups. During your checkups, your dentist will evaluate you or your child’s teeth to determine whether you need to make adjustments to your fluoride intake.