WHAT IS FLUORIDE?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that builds strong teeth and prevents cavities. It’s been an essential oral health treatment for decades. Fluoride supports healthy tooth enamel and fights the bacteria that harm teeth and gums. Tooth enamel is the outer protective layer of each tooth. Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and occurs naturally in varying amounts in water sources such as rivers, lakes, and even the oceans. Fluoride is naturally present to some extent in certain foods and beverages but the levels vary widely. To help protect teeth from cavities, fluoride is also added to some dental products such as toothpaste.
WHAT IS FLUORIDE VARNISH USED FOR?
Fluoride varnish treatments have long been known to help reduce sensitivity along the gumline, improve enamel resistance against acid, provide long-term caries prophylaxis, reduce the incidence of caries among high-risk patients, and treat sensitivity after tooth whitening. In fact, the American Dental Association recommends fluoride applications up to every three months for high-risk patients.
HOW DOES FLUORIDE WORK?
Fluoride works by restoring minerals to tooth surfaces where bacteria may have eroded the enamel. It can also inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria and further prevent cavities.
Fluoride benefits both children and adults. The earlier children are exposed to fluoride, the less likely they are to develop cavities. According to the American Dental Association, there are several ways that fluoride can benefit your oral health. Here’s how:
Before teeth break through the gums (erupt), the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages, and dietary supplements makes tooth enamel (the hard surface of the tooth) stronger, making it easier to resist tooth decay. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit.
After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides what is called a “topical” benefit.
In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth with tiny amounts of fluoride that help rebuild weakened tooth enamel.