What’s the big deal about fluoride? TV commercials boast about their fluoridated products, and it’s hard to find toothpaste or mouthwash without it, so you figure it must be necessary — but why?
Our team of experienced dentists at Dr. Aaronson & Associates in Midtown East, Manhattan, New York, explains the virtues of fluoride and what it does for your teeth. We also let you know how and where to get sufficient fluoride to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Fluoride is simply a mineral found in some foods and most natural bodies of water, like lakes, rivers, and oceans. This mineral is a key component in determining how strong teeth will be even before a baby’s first tooth breaks through the surface of the gums.
As the teeth are forming, fluoride helps harden the enamel, which acts as protective armor and keeps acids and bacteria at bay.
After the teeth erupt, topical fluoride supplements the fluoride you ingest. That’s why you see so many toothpastes touting their fluoride content. Foods and drinks that contain fluoride also coat your teeth with the mineral and contribute to enamel rebuilding throughout your life.
With plenty of fluoride to support your enamel topically and systemically, your teeth can effectively resist decay. But if you don’t get adequate amounts of fluoride in your diet or oral care products, you may face some serious dental issues.
Dangers of insufficient fluoride
Fluoride deficiency weakens the enamel on your teeth, which makes them vulnerable to attacks from acidic and sugary foods and bacteria. Food particles that sit on the surface of and inbetween your teeth form a sticky, acidic substance called plaque, which erodes your tooth enamel.
Once plaque breaches the enamel, bacteria enter the tooth through the hole (a cavity) and set up shop inside. During your twice-yearly dental cleanings and exams at Dr. Aaronson & Associates, we check for the early signs of cavities and tooth decay and treat them by removing the decayed material and filling them to prevent further damage.
If you ignore a cavity, the bacteria can burrow deeper into your tooth and infect the soft center called the pulp, and eventually reach your tooth root and your jaw bone. If the infection progresses, your pain will be severe, and you’ll need a root canal rather than a filling.
During a root canal, we drill a hole at the top of your affected tooth so we can access the pulp and remove the decayed material and the nerve inside. Once it’s clear, we seal the hole and top it with a crown. This procedure stops your pain and saves your tooth.
If the thought of getting a root canal concerns you, relax. We offer state-of-the-art sedation dentistry to keep you calm and comfortable throughout the procedure — you won’t feel a thing.
Where to get fluoride
To prevent cavities and the need for fillings and root canals, make sure you get plenty of fluoride. Here are four ways to get it.
1. Buy the right dental care products
When shopping for oral care products, read the labels and choose brands that contain fluoride. You bathe your teeth in the fortifying mineral every time you brush your teeth or swish your mouthwash.
2. Drink tap water
About 75 years ago, communities began adding fluoride to the municipal water systems, and the results have been amazing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that supplementing drinking water with fluoride led to a 25% reduction in cavities in both children and adults, prompting the agency to dub the addition of fluoride one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century.
If you live in New York City, your water has been fluoridated since 1966.
3. Take a fluoride supplement
Because you live in an area with fluoridated water and have access to fluoridated oral health care products, this option is likely irrelevant. However, prescription fluoride supplements are available for kids ages six months to 16 years who don’t get enough fluoride or are at high risk for cavities.
4. Visit Dr. Aaronson & Associates
The best way to know if you’re getting enough fluoride is to visit Dr. Aaronson & Associates. We conduct a thorough evaluation of your enamel health and let you know if you need to switch toothpaste, up your dental hygiene routine, or receive a fluoride treatment here in our office. If needed, we can apply the fluoride directly onto the surface of your teeth to give you an added measure of protection.
To find out if you and your family need fluoride treatments, schedule an appointment with us by calling our friendly staff or booking online today.