What are the Benefits of Fluoride?
Since fluoride was first discovered to strengthen tooth enamel, dentists have seen dramatic drops in tooth decay and caries. While the connection between fluoride and strengthening of the outer surface, or enamel, of the tooth has been known for some time, recent research has proven exactly how fluoride works to make teeth stronger.
A 2004 study* published in the journal Nature found fluoride works by sticking “to calcium ions near the surface of the tooth, anchoring them together and cutting down the rate at which the tooth is worn away.” This makes the tooth more resistant to acid that breaks down teeth and causes decay. The study further concluded that fluoride penetrates only the first few layers of the tooth. This means that chewing and physical abrasion will likely remove it over time. Hence, the need for repeated application of proper amounts of fluoride to maintain its beneficial effects.
A recent recommendation by the America Dental Association reinforces using fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses to maintain the health and strength of teeth. The article also suggests taking fluoride supplements if you live in an area that does not have fluoridated water.
For children it is important you speak with your dentist prior to using fluoride supplements, tooth paste or mouth rinses. However, fluoride is particularly important for children as it makes tooth enamel stronger even before teeth erupt. Also when purchasing fluoride produce look for the ADA seal.
Additional Reading and citations:
*Peplow, Mark, “Nature” https://www.nature.com/news/2004/040122/full/news040119-8.html
Mouth Healthy, August 2018, American Dental Association https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/fluoride?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_content=benefitsoffluoride_aug2018