Fluoride is to your teeth what water is to your body – essential for life. Without fluoride, the enamel on your teeth could give way to plaque and bacteria, spelling their untimely demise. Scenarios like this were expected in our grandparents’ time – after all, teeth could only be expected to last so long. But great progress has been made since then, not just with more advanced brushing and flossing techniques, but with fluoride as well.
Fluoride occurs naturally in food and water, and eating and drinking substances rich in fluoride aids in strengthening our teeth. But other elements of the same or similar foods are at the same time working to break down our teeth and promote decay. How can you stay ahead? One word: fluoride.
Dentists have long known of the importance of fluoride, and it was on their advice that municipalities began putting fluoride in our drinking water as an additive. The percentage of cities and towns adding fluoride to the water has been slowly increasing in the past 50 years, but large numbers of people still don’t get this benefit. Luckily, here in South Carolina, more than 75 percent of the public drinking water is fluoridated. However, if you get your water from a private well, if you drink filtered or bottled water, or if you don’t drink much water at all, you are not getting all the fluoride you need.
Many people think fluoride is just for kids, and the truth is that it is critically important for the health of developing teeth. As children’s teeth grow, fluoride can help protect and strengthen them into adulthood. Here at Pleasantburg of Greenville, we recommend fluoride treatments twice yearly after cleanings for all our young patients. And if you haven’t had one done lately, you’ll be happy to know that advances have been made.
Important for Adults, Too
Whereas adult teeth are already formed, fluoride is still important in fighting decay. Toothpaste, water and dental rinses all provide useful extra doses of fluoride, but they are dwarfed by the benefits of professional-strength fluoride used in a dentist’s office.
Special segments of the adult population specifically need extra fluoride, including those with dry mouth (organic or induced by taking certain medications), periodontitis (gum disease), frequent cavities or dental work such as braces, bridges or crowns. All these can cause parts of your teeth to be left open to greater exposure to bacteria and decay.
We here at Pleasantburg Family Dentistry can tell you if you need fluoride treatments. We all want the best possible protection!