What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some foods and water supplies contain fluoride. Fluoride is often added to drinking water to help reduce tooth decay. In the 1930s, researchers found that people who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water had up to two-thirds fewer cavities than people living in areas without fluoridated water. Studies since then have repeatedly shown that when fluoride is added to a community’s water supply, tooth decay decreases. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) considers “Community Water Fluoridation” as one of the “ 10 Greatest Public Health achievements of the 20 th century”. The American Dental Association, World Health Organization, and the American Medical Association have also endorsed the use of fluoride in water supplies. Unfortunately we DO NOT have community water fluoridation in Monroe and the majority of Ouachita Parish. Hopefully in the future we can pass a vote on it!
How Does Fluoride Work?
Fluoride helps prevent cavities in two different ways:
- Fluoride ion concentrates in the growing bones and developing teeth of children, helping to harden the enamel on baby and adult teeth before they emerge
- Fluoride helps to harden the enamel on adult teeth that have already emerged Fluoride works during the demineralization and remineralization processes that naturally occur in your mouth.
- After you eat, your saliva contains acids that cause demineralization — a dissolving of the calcium and phosphorous under the tooth’s surface
- At other times — when your saliva is less acidic — it does just the opposite, replenishing the calcium and phosphorous that keep your teeth hard. This process is caused remineralization. When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would otherwise be, helping to strengthen your teeth and prevent dissolution during the next demineralization phase
How do I Get Enough Fluoride?
If your drinking water is fluoridated, then brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste is considered sufficient for adults and children with healthy teeth at low risk of decay. As of 3/07 most water in Ouachita Parish is not fluoridated and does not have enough natural fluoride in it (0.7-1.2 ppm is considered optimal). We also recommend prescription fluoride tablets or drops for your children to take daily, depending on your water supply. If your water comes from a public water supply, you can find out if it’s fluoridated by calling your local water district. If your water comes from a private well, you can have it analyzed by an independent environmental testing company that provides water-testing services. You should also ensure that your pediatrician has not already given a multi-vitamin with Fluoride in it.
Regular Application of Fluoride in the Dental Office?
One of the easiest methods of preventing tooth decay is to receive fluoride in our office. We offer fluoride in many forms. We generally apply a foam, rinse or varnish depending on the patient and situation. Some patients may be advised to use prescription strength fluoride toothpaste or fluoride rinses. We recommend fluoride every 6 months until age 18, regardless of what your insurance provides for.