Fun with Fluoride

dental hygiene Hillsboro, ORLike butter in a Food Network recipe, fluoride is in just about all dental hygiene products. If you check the labels on your toothpaste and mouthwashes, you’ll find fluoride listed. It’s even in the material used to fill cavities in baby teeth. And, despite the nut jobs that believe it to be a communist conspiracy, you’ll even find fluoride in the Portland water supply.

You’ve heard of fluoride, but what do you know about this dental superhero? Dr. Miller will now present Fluoride 101.

What is fluoride and how does it protect the teeth?

Every day your mouth is kind of like a mine in Cripple Creek; it has minerals coming and going. Minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer through two processes, demineralization and remineralization. Remineralization is good; demineralization is the problem. Minerals are lost from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids, formed by the bacteria in plaque and sugars in the mouth, attack the enamel. Fortunately, when you eat foods and drink water, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate remineralize the teeth. Therein lies the ongoing battle — too much demineralization without remineralization results in tooth decay.

Despite what whackos spout in Internet sites, fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. It helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to those acids from bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride also has the cool effect of reversing early cases of decay. For kids under 6, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. This makes the teeth resistant to the assault of acids to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also speeds remineralization and disrupts acid production in the mouth. What’s not to love?

When is fluoride the most beneficial?

Since it was first tested (in Grand Rapids, Michigan of all places) and shown to have such tooth-strengthening powers, originally it was thought that only children benefit from fluoride. But new research shows that topical fluoride from toothpaste, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments are important to help adult teeth fight decay. For children, it’s long been known that children between 6 months and 16 years need fluoride to help build their teeth.

Fluoride treatments with Dr. Miller

Now you know that fluoride is one of your mouth’s best friends. We provide fluoride treatments at Dr. Miller’s to give our patients a more concentrated occasional fluoride application. We apply fluoride varnish topically at each appointment of our younger patients. Call us at 503-640-9310 to schedule your next appointment.

Posted in: Oral Health

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