Fluoride is a mineral that exists naturally in many water sources, but levels can vary. Water is "fluoridated" when your community regulates and adjusts the amount of fluoride in the water system to the level that is found to prevent tooth decay. Our water has been fluoridated for 60 years and has helped millions of people prevent tooth decay.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride comes from minerals in the ground. It is found in water, soil, plants, and in many foods and drinks. You need fluoride for good health. How does fluoride work? Tooth decay can be stopped and even reversed by fluoride. Each time you eat or drink foods that have sugars or starches, the germs in your mouth make acid that cause tooth decay.
The acid attacks the teeth and dissolves some of their minerals. This happens many times during the day. Fluoride repairs these small spots of decay by putting new minerals in the teeth to replace those that are lost. This stops the decay before it spreads inside the teeth. The repaired teeth become stronger from fluoride.
Where can I get fluoride?
The easiest way to get fluoride is by drinking water. Many people in Ohio drink water that has enough fluoride in it. If you do not know if your water has enough fluoride in it, ask your dentist or doctor. They can help you have your water tested. If your water doesn’t have enough fluoride, your dentist or doctor may prescribe fluoride tablets or drops for your child.
Using toothpaste is an easy way to get fluoride too. Most toothpaste has fluoride in it. Use toothpaste that has the seal of the American Dental Association on the tube. This means that the toothpaste has been shown to prevent tooth decay. Children under age 6 should use a small dab of toothpaste, about the size of a pea. Make sure your child does not swallow toothpaste, or their adult teeth could come in with white spots or stains on them.
You can also get fluoride in mouthrinses and at the dental office. Not all children need the same amount or type of fluoride. Ask your dentist or doctor about the best ways for your child to get fluoride.
Does fluoride help adults too?
Yes! Fluoride prevents tooth decay in adults. Be sure to use fluoride yourself because it will help your teeth last a lifetime!
Enamel is the outer layer of the tooth and is the hardest substance in the human body. The way that fluoride helps to prevent cavities is by stabilizing the enamel crystals. The enamel demineralizes from the acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth. Fluoride then recrystallizes the dissolved enamel surface. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel. Dr. Kucera recommends fluoride treatments as part of your child's regular dental visit . Dr. Kucera will recommend at home treatments to meet your specific child's needs; fluoridated toothpaste, fluoride vitamins, and/or fluoride oral mouth rinses. Be sure to follow Dr. Kucera's instructions because too much fluoride can be harmful to your child's health.
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