How Does Fluoride Work?
Systemic benefit: Fluoride taken in from eating and drinking strengthens tooth enamel (the hard surface of the tooth), making it more resistant to tooth decay.
Topical benefit: Fluoride remineralizes the tooth when it erupts and reverses early signs of tooth decay. It is done so by applying fluoride on top of the teeth, like using fluoride toothpaste or fluoride dental products.
Consuming food and drinks with fluoride also serves topical benefits. Fluoride becomes part of the saliva, which constantly bathes the teeth and restores the weakend tooth enamel.
Ways of Getting Fluoride:
Drink water with fluoride: Fluoride is naturally found in most water resources. Community Water Fluoridation has further extended fluoridated water to 75% of the U.S. population.
Use fluoride toothpaste/mouthwash:
Toothpaste: brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Children younger than 3 years should start brushing their teeth with an amount of toothpaste equivalent to a grain of rice when teeth starts to appear in their mouths. For children age 3-6, use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
Mouthwash: children below the age of 6 are not advised to use mouthwash because they are more likely to swallow instead of spitting it out.
Professional fluoride application by dentist: your dentist will apply fluoride (in gel, foam, or rinse) directly on your teeth if they suspect you have a high chance of cavity.
Fluoride supplement: Comes in tablet, drop, or lozenge forms. Recommended mostly to children between the age of 6 and 16, in places with inadequate fluoridated community water. Seek advice from dentist, pediatrician, or family physician.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD