Fluorine, a natural element in the fluoride compound, has proven to be effective in minimizing childhood cavities and tooth decay. Fluoride is a key ingredient in many popular brands of toothpaste, oral gel, and mouthwash, and can also be found in most community water supplies. Though fluoride is an important part of any good oral care routine, overconsumption can result in a condition known as fluorosis.
How Fluoride Prevents Tooth Decay
Fluoride fulfills two important dental functions. First, it helps stop mineral loss from tooth enamel, and second, it promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel.
When carbohydrates or sugars are consumed, oral bacteria feed on them and produce harmful acids. These acids attack tooth enamel – especially in children who take medications or produce less saliva. Repeated acid attacks result in cavities, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Fluoride protects tooth enamel from acid attacks and reduces the risk of tooth decay.
Fluoride is especially effective when used as part of a good oral hygiene regimen. Reducing the consumption of sugary foods, brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist biannually, all help keep teeth healthy.