Fluoride is a natural element that can be found in many things, like the water we drink and the food we eat. Decades ago, scientists began to notice that children who lived in places where fluoride occurred naturally in the water had fewer dental cavities.
Fluoride that is absorbed by your body is used to make stronger enamel. Tooth enamel crystals that have fluoride are much more resistant to acid. They are less likely to break down and cause teeth surfaces to become porous.
We can obtain fluoride from a variety of sources including fluoridated beverages, fluoride supplements, mouthwashes, toothpastes and topical treatments. So whether ingested through fluoridated beverages or applied topically with toothpaste, rinses or treatments, replenishing fluoride is one of best ways to strengthen tooth enamel and help it resist acids that can lead to cavity production.
Many communities have fluoridated tap water or drinking water which has significantly helped in reducing the population’s caries rate. Here in the U.A.E., the water is not fluoridated.
It is certainly important for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride, as this is the period during which the permanent teeth come in. However, adults benefit from fluoride, too as it is important in fighting tooth decay.
Of course too much fluoride can sometimes cause fluorosis, which is the formation of white spots on the teeth. This may happen in children who live in areas where the water is highly fluoridated as well as consume more fluoride from other sources.
We advise our patients to always use a fluoride toothpaste. We also recommend that children have topical fluoride applied on their teeth, either at 3 month intervals or 6 month intervals, depending on their caries risk. The fluoride the dentist applies on their teeth will help make the enamel crystals stronger and reduce the risk of their teeth decaying.