image11Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral that can has been shown to both strengthen tooth structure and destroy the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Fluoride is found naturally in low concentration in drinking water and foods. Fresh water supplies generally contain between 0.01-0.3 ppm, The fluoridation of water is known to prevent tooth decay in both children and adults, and is considered by the U.S. Center for Disease Control “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century”.

Fluoride reduces the rate at which tooth structure demineralizes and increases the rate at which it remineralizes in the early stages of cavities.  Because of this remineralization activity, Fluoride has been shown to actually reverse early decay, alleviating the need for restorative measures in certain situations.  For example, if tooth demineralization is localized to the outer enamel of a tooth, fluoride can re-strengthen this weakened area, and no restorative measure would be necessary.  However, once tooth demineralization breaches the outer enamel and penetrates into the next layer, called dentin, restorative measures will most likely be necessary.

Because of fluoride’s preventative affects, and since Springfield does not fluoridate it’s water to the levels recommended by the CDC and World Health Organization, Dr. Victor recommends regular professional strength fluoride applications for both children and adults.  Dr. Victor also recommends the use of over-the-counter fluoride rinses on a daily basis for adults and children old enough to not swallow it.   In certain cases, Dr. Victor may also prescribe fluoride trays or ingestible fluoride supplements.  Fluoride trays are particularly useful in adult patients who have reduced salivary flow such as in xerostomia.  Ingestible fluoride supplements are beneficial for children who are still developing permanent adult teeth.  When using fluoride, do not eat or drink for a half hour after.

As for most everything, fluoride in moderation has beneficial effects, but in excess can have detrimental effects.  If someone does accidentally ingest excessive amounts of fluoride, have the person drink large amounts of milk or take something like Tums or multivitamins which are high in calcium and magnesium.  These minerals will work to bind up the excessive fluoride.  If the person becomes nauseous, contact your physician or an acute care facility for immediate attention or observation.