How Fluoride Helps Combat Tooth Decay

fluoride treatment in a dental office

If you could change a few simple things in your day to prevent tooth decay, would you? You can combat cavities by simply drinking water throughout the day. In the United States, almost all public water sources contain fluoride. This is a naturally-occuring mineral in many foods and water. It’s also a mineral your teeth need to stay strong and remineralize after a long day of tooth wear. This mineral helps prevent tooth decay by making your teeth resistant to acids that cause tooth enamel erosion. Find out how important fluoride is to the health of your mouth and why you should consider fluoride products to help your smile!


Tooth Decay

Have you ever had a cavity? Odds are that you’ve had at least one in your lifetime, even if it was only in a small baby tooth. Tooth decay goes by the other names of “cavities” and “dental caries” and is essentially the decay of your teeth due to plaque. Your mouth makes plaque every day after you eat and drink. Sugars in those foods and drink mix with bacteria in your mouth to form a sticky, acidic substance that coats your teeth. If you go look in the mirror right now, you may actually see some of that plaque along your gum line. Eating and drinking is how you get it. Although plaque is small and fairly clear, it’s more harmful than you might think.


If you don’t brush and floss your teeth often enough, you will see changes in your dental health. Plaque’s acidity works to erode your tooth enamel over time, weakening your tough teeth and causing small cracks in the surface. That erosion creates cavities on the surface, and if it gets inside your tooth, you will end up with tooth decay that spreads rapidly. Plaque also irritates your gums, causing them to recede. The worst part is that once you have tooth decay, only a dentist can fix it by removing the decayed part of your tooth. Protect yourself against tooth decay with consistent oral hygiene habits and by using fluoride!


fluoridated water

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that you should highly consider adding to your daily oral hygiene routine. This is a mineral found in the earth’s crust and throughout nature. Scientists discovered many years ago (in the 1930s to be exact) that this mineral is also one that can prevent the teeth from tooth decay. This substance is not like taking a vitamin, but is something that has to come in contact with your teeth. So how do you get it in your system? After its discovery, the United States began putting fluoride in all the public drinking water throughout the 50 states. That means, if you drink water throughout the day, your teeth will receive the fluoride it needs to stay healthy and strong.


Fluoride helps create a barrier between your teeth and acids from plaque and harmful bacteria. If it’s on your teeth, it’s as if they are coated in a protective layer against erosion and demineralization. Demineralization of your teeth happens every single day, but substances in your food and drink (such as fluoride) help build your teeth back up once more. In fact, fluoride helps harden your tooth enamel and concentrates in the developing bones and teeth of children. The American Dental Association calls fluoride the “superhero of cavity fighting”.


Dental Cleanings

The ADA recommends visiting the dentist at least twice a year for a dental cleaning and comprehensive exam. These two visits a year a covered by most insurances, as dental cleanings and exams are basic services every person needs to prevent tooth decay. During a dental exam, you’ll receive diagnostic and preventive services from your dentist and necessary education to care for your teeth and gums. This includes:

  • Removing tartar. Tartar is mineralized plaque that has hardened on your teeth. We remove it with fine hand tools and polishing tooths and it can only be removed by a dentist.
  • Polish your teeth with a spinning brush.
  • Checking your bite, chewing and swallowing patterns.
  • Conducting an oral cancer examination and screening.
  • Reviewing and updating your medical history.
  • Assessing your gum health.
  • Taking x-rays and checking for tooth decay.
  • Applying fluoride to your teeth.

We always end your appointment with the dentist checking your teeth and applying a fluoride treatment to strengthen your teeth before you leave. This treatment only takes 30-60 seconds and is usually a foam we apply to your teeth. Receiving an in-office fluoride treatment will strengthen your teeth immensely and help you protect yourself against decay.


fluoride toothpaste

Other Tips for Cleaner Teeth

You protect your teeth the most from decay right in your very own home. We recommend that every patient brush their teeth at least twice a day. Brushing after every meal will reduce the amount of plaque you have even more, and thus reduce your risk for cavities. Floss your teeth 1-2 times a day as well to remove food particles and plaque in-between your teeth. There are many fluoride-containing products you can buy over-the-counter that you can add to your oral hygiene routine. Fluoridated toothpastes are great for your teeth health and a treatment only takes a minutes. If you are prone to cavities, these few guidelines can reduce those cavities in no time!


Healthy Mouth for Life

Did you know that you never have to have cavities? Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases among children and adults, but it is 100% preventable. You never have to have it! Avoid it with brushing and flossing your teeth several times a day and by using fluoride each day to strengthen against decay. These simple tips will improve your oral health and your overall health. To schedule your exam and cleaning, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!