In our mouth is an ongoing battle between our gums and teeth and the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gingivitis. Fluoride is one of our strongest allies in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. It was first discovered over a hundred years ago and has since joined our struggle. Now it’s found in nearly every oral health care product in the pharmacy and is added to our drinking water. This substance is found naturally in rocks, soil, and water.
How Fluoride Is Able To Protect Our Smile
Before fluoride gains its amazing dental protection powers, it starts its life as fluorine. Fluorine is an incredibly common mineral on our planet, one of the top 20, in fact. It becomes fluoride only after encountering a substance, like sodium, that is positively charged. This is because fluoride is what is known as an ion of fluorine, containing one more electron than fluorine itself. Once this combination occurs, you now have the amazing substance known as fluoride. It brings with it the ability to prevent the formation of cavities and reinforce the strength of your teeth.
To discover additional ways fluoride can protect our smile, we have to know more. Let’s start with:
- Tooth Enamel – The hardest substance in the human body, the enamel is the protective layer on the exterior of our teeth. Harder even than bone, it’s made from calcium and phosphate.
- Saliva – This does more than just keep your mouth moist. Saliva also creates a hostile environment for bad bacteria and bathes the teeth in calcium and phosphate. This helps restore minerals to the enamel to prevent its erosion.
While fluoride is a powerful ally, it can’t cure everything. Eating large amounts of carbs and sugar helps the bacteria by feeding them. They then produce acid as a byproduct, which is capable of softening your enamel. This softening makes it easier for your enamel to wear away and cavities to form. Saliva does its best to keep the food debris away and the bacteria at bay, but it needs help from consistent oral hygiene.
What fluoride does is give your oral health an important age. When you consume fluoride, it joins with the minerals found in our saliva to become fluoroapatite. Not even enamel is as strong as fluoroapatite, which is good news for our teeth! Fluoroapatite bonds with our enamel to reinforce it. Bacteria continue to fight back, however. Research has shown that bacteria do their best to expel as much fluoride as they can to help it continue to attack our teeth.
How To Get The Fluoride You Need For Good Oral Health
Today we get fluoride from numerous sources. It’s in your toothpaste; it’s in your mouthwash; it’s even in your drinking water. In many cases, you’ll get additional fluoride during your regular dental visits. It’s common for dentists to provide a fluoride treatment as part of your yearly cleaning and check-up. Find new ways to get more fluoride in your diet by checking with your dental care professional.