Our mouths are a constant battleground between our teeth and gums and the bacteria that wish them harm. At the core of this fight is a fantastic substance that was discovered many years ago, fluoride. Today it’s found in almost every oral health product on the market and is even included in our drinking water. Prior to our discovery of its importance, it resided in natural water, soil, and rocks. Once we discovered the oral health benefits of this mineral, we immediately recruited it into our fight against tooth decay.
Where It Comes From, And How It Protect Our Smile
It all starts with fluorine, an element that ranks among the top 20 common elements in the crust of our planet. Fluoride is actually an ion of fluorine, meaning it has an additional electron over fluorine. Fluoride forms when fluorine comes into contact with an element that is negatively charged, such as sodium. By their powers combined, they form fluoride, a powerful cavity-fighting agent. Fluoride is able to improve the strength of your teeth and prevent the formation of cavities.
To understand how fluoride protects our teeth, we have to understand our teeth a bit more:
- Tooth Enamel – This is the hard covering on the outside of our teeth. It’s more durable than bone while still being made from phosphate and calcium.
- Saliva – Saliva contains notable levels of phosphate and calcium. Keeping your teeth moist with saliva constantly reinforces them.
Foods that contain high amounts of sugar and carbs help to feed bacteria that can harm your teeth. The acid these bacteria produce can soften your enamel, making it easier for it to be worn away. It accomplishes this by removing phosphate and calcium from your teeth. The result is enamel that can’t defend against cavities quite as well. The back and forth between saliva and acid from bacteria can tip without proper dental hygiene and care.
Fluoride helps tip the battle a little further in our favor. No matter what our source of fluoride is, it combines with the minerals in our saliva to create fluoroapatite. This material is stronger than even our enamel and serves to reinforce it against decay. The battle isn’t one-sided, however. Bacteria recognize the trouble that fluoride represents and fights to expel it at every turn. Only by maintaining our oral hygiene routine can we ensure the bacteria remain under control.
Where You Get Fluoride In Your System
Fluoride can be found in many sources, and most cities include it in their water. This small amount, combined with that in your toothpaste and mouthwash, can mean serious protection for your teeth. You’ll also often get additional fluoride during a visit to your dentist! It’s often a standard part of our ongoing care, especially in younger patients. The best way to ensure you’re getting enough fluoride is to maintain a steady practice of oral hygiene. Brush with fluoride toothpaste, and find a mouthwash that contains it. The results can be a beautiful smile that will last you a lifetime.