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What is Dental Fluoride and How Does it Affect My Teeth?

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Author: Dr. Susan Wells

The type of toothpaste you use has a significant effect on the health and durability of your teeth. Since childhood we have heard of fluoride and how it helps strengthen our teeth. But what is fluoride?

Fluoride is a chemical that occurs naturally in the body as calcium fluoride and is mostly found in the bones and teeth. It is added to the water by many local governments to help prevent tooth decay and strengthen the teeth's enamel. When we drink the water the fluoride is taken up by the teeth and strengthens them, helps resist acid, and block the cavity-forming action of bacteria.

Fluoride is also added to toothpaste for the same cavity preventing reasons as it is added to water. For this reason it is important that you and your child in particular begin using the right types of toothpastes because of the dental fluoride in which it contains. Toothpastes which contain fluoride help to strengthen teeth and prevent teeth from cavities and other dental diseases that are linked to weak teeth and cavities.

The foods that we eat turn into sugars and acids on our mouths. This acid then breaks down the original tooth enamel and forms tooth decay and cavities. However, good dental hygiene and a toothpaste with fluoride will help to reduce and eliminate these acids which create problems in the tooth's enamel. The fluoride then goes one step further and it will give the weakened areas of tooth enamel more nutrients in order to return minerals to the surface, creating a stronger tooth enamel.

It is apparent how much dental fluoride affects one's teeth. Depending on your fluoride intake and the strength of your teeth, your doctor may suggest certain types of fluoride in order to increase your dental hygiene and tooth strength. The two types of fluoride which will be recommended are topical fluorides and systemic fluorides. Topical fluorides are the type of fluorides which are found in your mouth wash and toothpaste along with the dental substances used in the dentist's office during oral hygiene check ups. The other type of fluoride, systemic fluoride comes in the form of tablets, water, drops or other types of fluoride supplements. Systemic means that is runs through the body's system. Generally, those adults and children who need to take systemic fluoride are those who do not receive enough fluoride in their diet, normally from their water intake. Some communities do not have fluoridated water which results in a lower level of fluoride intake and the necessity for systemic fluoride.

The intake of fluoride is crucial as it can lead to unhealthy dental hygiene. Such unhealthy dental health can include tooth decay which may result in further dental problems if not treated properly. In this instance, tooth decay can lead to cavities, the rotting the teeth, gum disease and tooth loss. These conditions must be treated and they do not go without pain and discomfort. In order to correct some of these dental problems, one must undergo root canals, bridges, dentures, tooth extractions and much more.

If your water supply does not contain fluoride or you drink bottled water exclusively, it is possible that you and your family suffer from a fluoride deficiency. If you have any doubts about whether you are getting too much or too little fluoride in your water and diet you should consult with your dentist about your fluoride level and the fluoride level of your child.

Dr. Susan Wells DMD has been practicing dentistry in Warrior, Alabama since 1978. She treats patients for all aspects of general dentistry including preventive dental care oral hygiene instruction and full scale exams and cleanings. To find out more or book an appointment visit her site at


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