Since childhood, we have all heard how important fluoride is in keeping our teeth healthy and strong and in preventing decay. However, many of us haven’t been told exactly why this mineral is so important to dental health. In addition to helping a child’s teeth develop, fluoride also helps keep our adult teeth from developing decay through a process called re-mineralization.
Importance of Fluoride to Developing Teeth
Fluoride, calcium, and other minerals help create the building blocks that form our teeth even before we are born. A pregnant mother must be careful about the amount of fluoride she ingests to ensure the first tooth buds form correctly to create strong, healthy baby teeth. If not enough fluoride is absorbed by the developing baby, the teeth can be brittle and fragile. If too much is absorbed, the teeth can develop staining, typically in gray stripes that discolor the teeth.
As a child grows older, the permanent teeth develop. They, too, require fluoride to ensure they develop properly and provide strong, healthy teeth throughout our adult life. Other minerals such as calcium also continue to play an important role in dental health and tooth development.
How Fluoride Prevents Cavities
Cavities occur when acids eat through the tooth enamel, creating a hole. This can occur from direct exposure to acidic foods and beverages, such as lemon juice or sodas, or it can occur from exposure to plaque that builds up on the teeth. Plaque is a highly acidic waste product created by bacteria that live on food particles that are trapped in the teeth.
When minor damage occurs to the tooth due to exposure to acids, calcium and fluoride can work together to re-mineralize the tooth. They allow the tooth to more or less repair itself, creating mineralization that fills in the small, damaged areas so a cavity does not develop. Using fluoride every day as you brush, as well as visiting our dentist at Nicholas Kemp Dentistry regularly for professional fluoride treatments, can save you a great deal of trouble in the future by helping your teeth battle the ravages of acidic foods and plaque.
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