One of the most important discoveries in recent years has been that fluoride encourages the enamel of the tooth to repair itself, providing the decay has not gone too far. In Australia fluoridated water has resulted in decay rates dropping by up to 60%. 30 years ago the average teenager had 18 teeth either needing fillings, already filled or extracted due to decay, 2 out of 3 older adults had lost their teeth and wore dentures, and many 16 year olds had to have all their teeth out due to decay.
Due to fluoride, young people today may never need a filling.
How does Fluoride work?
Enamel, the outer layer of the crown of a tooth, is made of closely packed mineral crystals. Every day, minerals are lost and gained from inside the enamel crystals. Losing minerals is called demineralization. Gaining them back is called remineralisation.
Demineralization begins with the bacteria in the plaque on your teeth. They feed on sugar and other carbohydrates in your mouth and produce acids. The acids dissolve crystals in tooth enamel. The loss of enamel is balanced by remineralisation. In this process, minerals in the saliva, such as fluoride, calcium and phosphate, are deposited back into the enamel. Too much loss of minerals without enough replacement leads to tooth decay.
Fluoride helps teeth in two ways. When children eat or drink fluoride in small doses, it enters the bloodstream and becomes part of their developing permanent teeth. Swallowed fluorides also become part of the saliva and strengthen teeth from the outside. Acids are less able to damage tooth enamel strengthened by fluoride.
In addition, people apply fluoride directly to their teeth when they use a fluoride toothpaste or rinse. Both children and adults also can receive fluoride treatments from the dentist. Fluoride applied to the outside of the teeth helps to speed remineralisation. Fluoride treatments, applied in the dental office, also are strong enough to disrupt the production of acids by bacteria.*
Ask our dentists or hygienists if you need fluoride solution applied to prevent decay starting. Fluoride solution is a concentrated liquid that can stop the early stages of decay progressing.
For further information about Fluoride please visit the Australian Dental Association website at www.ada.org.au. * Some of this information is reproduced from this site and following link:
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