What Does Fluoride Prevent?

fluoride toothpaste in foregroundIf your home is connected to a municipal water supply, then you probably have a healthy supply of fluoride flowing from your faucets. Many toothpaste and mouthrinse brands contain the mineral, and your Gary, IN dentist can directly apply fluoride to weakened teeth to improve their protection. As a preventive dentistry measure, fluoride is a valuable tool in good dental hygiene, but what, exactly, does the mineral prevent?

Fluoride and Your Tooth Enamel

Your teeth may require your constant attention to remain strong and healthy, but they aren’t completely defenseless on their own. The semi-translucent layer of minerals surrounding your teeth, known as tooth enamel, is the most resilient substance your body produces. In fact, tooth enamel is stronger than almost all other substances on earth, second only to diamonds in terms of toughness. Although enamel is made mostly of calcium and phosphate, fluoride can bind to its surface to reduce the risk of oral bacteria reaching your tooth’s main structure (dentin). Fluoride also helps inhibit bacteria’s ability to form dental plaque and stick to your teeth, which limits their influence on your dental health.

How Else Can You Prevent Cavities?

Tooth enamel grows weak when certain bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) consume sugar and other carbohydrates, and then convert them into acids that sap minerals from your teeth. Every time you eat, your teeth may be subjected to these acids, and if acid erosion outpaces enamel’s ability to recover, then bacteria can reach the underlying structure and lead to tooth decay. Fluoride helps strengthen enamel, but the most effective method of preventing cavities is to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once, and limit the amount of times you snack throughout the day. Help ensure your teeth stay cavity-free by attending a dental checkup and cleaning every six months. Our hygienists can expertly remove bacteria and the dental plaque that protects them, as well as tartar (calcified plaque) that your toothbrush can’t handle. Dr. Cain may recommend a fluoride treatment if he notices signs of weak tooth enamel, or an appropriate restorative treatment if a cavity has already developed.

About Your Gary, IN Dentist:

As a native of northwest Indiana, Nicholas Cain, DDS, is dedicated to providing excellent cosmetic, preventive, and restorative dentistry to the community that raised him. To schedule your family’s next dental appointment, call Healthy Smiles today at 219-938-2637.