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Fluoride and Oral Health: A Winning Combination

Taking care of our oral health is essential for maintaining a beautiful smile and overall well-being. One of the most effective tools in preventing tooth decay and promoting dental health is fluoride. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of fluoride and how it plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health. So, let's dive in!


senior woman smiling at the dentist

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water sources, certain foods, and toothpaste. It has gained popularity for its remarkable ability to prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel, the protective outer layer of our teeth. When fluoride is incorporated into the enamel structure, it makes the teeth more resistant to acid attacks, reducing the risk of cavities.


Fluoride and Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay occurs when harmful bacteria in our mouth produce acids that erode the enamel and lead to cavities. Fluoride acts as a shield against these acid attacks by remineralizing and strengthening the enamel. Regular exposure to fluoride helps repair weak spots in the enamel, making it more resistant to acid erosion. This preventive effect significantly reduces the chances of developing cavities and the need for extensive dental treatments down the line.


Fluoride and Sensitivity Relief

If you experience tooth sensitivity, fluoride can be a game-changer. Sensitivity occurs when the underlying dentin, a softer layer beneath the enamel, becomes exposed. Fluoride helps by desensitizing the nerve endings in the dentin, providing relief from sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet stimuli. Regular use of fluoride toothpaste or rinses can effectively reduce tooth sensitivity and improve your overall dental comfort.


Benefits

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, a common yet serious disease in Canada. We have used fluoride to prevent tooth decay since the 1940’s. In fact, fluoride has been scientifically proven to:

  • strengthen tooth enamel

  • lower the amount of acid in your mouth

  • rebuild minerals that make teeth stronger


Fluoride for All Ages

Fluoride is beneficial for everyone, regardless of age. For children, fluoride plays a critical role in the development of strong and healthy teeth. The American Dental Association recommends the use of fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts. However, it is important to use a pea-sized amount and supervise young children to ensure they don't swallow the toothpaste.


For adults, fluoride continues to be an essential component of good oral hygiene. It helps protect against tooth decay and keeps your teeth strong and healthy. If you're prone to cavities or have had dental work done, your dentist may recommend additional fluoride treatments, such as gels or varnishes, to provide extra protection.


How to Incorporate Fluoride into Your Oral Care Routine:

Here are a few simple ways to make fluoride a part of your daily oral care routine:

  1. Use Fluoride Toothpaste: Look for toothpaste with fluoride as an active ingredient. Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes.

  2. Drink Fluoridated Water: In areas with fluoridated water, drinking tap water can be an excellent way to receive fluoride naturally.

  3. Consider Fluoride Mouthwash: Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash can help reach areas that brushing might miss, providing an extra layer of protection.

  4. Visit Your Dentist: Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining good oral health. Your dentist can assess your fluoride needs and, if necessary, provide professional fluoride treatments.


Sources of fluoride to prevent tooth decay

  • Toothpaste - Brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste helps prevent tooth decay.

  • Water - Drinking water that contains an optimal level of fluoride helps prevent tooth decay.

  • Varnishes - Fluoride varnish prevents tooth decay in people who are at risk for the disease. Fluoride varnish should be painted on your teeth by someone who has been trained to do so.

  • Mouth rinses - Fluoride mouth rinses or mouthwashes prevent tooth decay in people who are at risk for the disease. Talk to your oral health professional before using them. Never give fluoridated mouth rinses or mouthwashes to children under 6 years of age. These rinses contain very high levels of fluoride, and young children are more likely to swallow them.

  • Gels and foams - Gels and foams are applied to the teeth to prevent tooth decay in people who are at risk for the disease. However, research shows that they do not work as well as fluoride varnish.

  • Supplements - Fluoride supplements are drops or tablets. Only take them if an oral health professional advises you to.

Natural Food Sources of Fluoride


elderly man smiling at grocery store

Fluoride is important in limited quantities to our oral health because it can strengthen and re-mineralize damaged enamel, making it more resistant to decay.


Contrary to what you might hear, fluoride is a mineral occurring in nature in many places, including our food. Here are a few fluoride-rich foods you now have a new excuse to enjoy.




Spinach

Popeye’s favourite superfood, spinach, is packed with all kinds of great vitamins and minerals, and fluoride is among them. Spinach contains 0.07 mg of fluoride per cup. It is also a great source of Vitamin C, which can strengthen the immune system and help your body fight infections.


Grapes, Raisins, and Wine

Grapes are also a natural source of fluoride, but not in very high concentrations compared to raisins, which have more than 20 times as much fluoride as raw grapes. Wine is also a good source of fluoride, particularly white wine, which contains nearly twice as much as red wine.


Black Tea

If you get your daily caffeine hit from black tea, you’re also increasing your fluoride intake. Some people believe that the high level of fluoride in tea simply comes from preparing it with fluoridated tap water. In fact, the mineral is contained in the tea leaves themselves. Brewing your black tea with tap water just increases the fluoride content a little bit more. But be warned: Black tea will stain your teeth, even quicker than black coffee!


Potatoes

Potatoes are also a decent source of fluoride, particularly russet potatoes, which contain 0.49 ppm of fluoride. However, the fluoride content depends on how the potatoes are prepared: baked potatoes and hash browns contain twice as much fluoride as french fries!


Seafood

Shrimp, crab legs, and other seafood make for a fancy dinner or appetizer on special occasions and are also a very good source of fluoride.

Fluoride is undoubtedly a superhero when it comes to oral health. From preventing tooth decay to relieving sensitivity, fluoride offers a range of benefits for people of all ages. By incorporating fluoride into our daily oral care routine and visiting our dentist regularly, we can ensure that our smiles stay healthy and bright for years to come. So, let's embrace the power of fluoride and make it our ally in the fight against tooth decay!

 

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