What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth's crust and is widely distributed in nature. Some food (fish, meat, eggs, tea) and water supplies also contain fluoride. Fluoride is a substance used to prevent or reduce the early signs of tooth decay. The American Dental Association, the World Health Organisation and the American Medical Association, among many other organisations, have endorsed the use of fluoride in water supplies because of its effect on tooth decay.
How does fluoride work?
Fluoride makes the tooth structure stronger so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. Acid is formed when sugars and carbohydrates from your child's diet are broken down by the bacteria in the mouth. Repeated acid attacks can break down the tooth structure and cause decay.
How does fluoride prevent cavities?
Fluoride hardens the enamel (outer layer) on baby and adult teeth before they erupt as well as hardens the enamel of permanent teeth that have already emerged, thus preventing cavities.
What are topical fluorides?
Topical fluorides are fluorides that are absorbed when they come in contact with the outer layer (enamel) of the teeth. These can be absorbed in several ways:
• When fluoridated water comes in contact with teeth
• Brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste
• Fluoride treatment at the dental office
• Fluoride mouth wash
What are systemic fluorides?
Systemic fluorides are those that enter the bloodstream and become a part of the permanent teeth as they develop, and strengthen the teeth from within. Systemic fluoride enters the blood stream in various ways:
• Drinking fluoridated water
• Fluoride tablets
• Small amounts of fluoride in food