If you have ever been to the dentist (which we hope you have), you will have heard of fluoride. It is a natural mineral that is found throughout nature and the earth’s crust.
Research has repeatedly shown that fluoride helps to keep both adult’s and children’s teeth healthy and strong.
Fluoride reduces the chance of adults and children developing cavities. Fluoride can also repair the early stages of tooth decay before a cavity starts to form. The mineral works by hardening the enamel on the teeth. Enamel acts as a protective barrier surrounding the more delicate inner layers of the teeth.
Fluoride works by being absorbed into the enamel. It replenishes the lost calcium and phosphorous to keep your teeth strong. This process is known as remineralisation.
Toothpastes contain different amounts of fluoride, and this is measured in parts per million (ppm). Children under the age of 3 should use a smear of toothpaste that contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride. There are brands of toothpaste that are directly marketed at infants.
Children aged between 3 and 6, should brush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing more than 1,000ppm fluoride. Adults should brush with toothpaste that contains between 1,350 and 1,500ppm fluoride.
Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is the most effective way to prevent tooth decay. You can find fluoride in the majority of toothpaste. Before buying a toothpaste, check the ingredients to make sure it contains the right amount of fluoride. It’s also important to leave it half an hour to eat or drink anything after brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. This is so that you are giving the fluoride time to work on protecting your enamel.
It is common for dentists to apply a fluoride sealant varnish to children’s baby teeth. Once this varnish has been applied, it can last up to 5 years. It helps to protect children’s more delicate teeth until their adult teeth come through.
Some water supplies in the UK also contain levels of fluoride. Studies have shown that when fluoride is added to a community’s water supply, cases of tooth decay decrease.
At Stella Maris Dental in West Bromwich, we want to educate our patients on the best ways to keep their teeth strong and healthy. If you have any questions about fluoride and how you should be using it, please ask your dentist in your next appointment.
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