The Need for Fluoride

October 24, 2012 | Posted in Education

Most of us today have grown up using fluoride as a routine weapon in our fight against cavities. Its use has become so common that it may seem difficult to believe that fluoride was not always used this way.

In Canada and the U.S., fluoride was first introduced into drinking water in the 1940’s. The conclusion at the time was that doing so significantly reduced the incidence of dental cavities. As a result, a number of communities added fluoride to their drinking water.

Some people have questioned the need to add fluoride to drinking water. To get a better understanding of this controversy, it is important to understand the role that fluoride plays in oral health.

Fluoride works in a couple of different ways to protect our teeth. Primarily, it inhibits the ability of bacteria to eat away at the minerals in our teeth. Bacteria accumulate in the plaque that can build up in our teeth, particularly around the gum line.

If left unchecked, the plaque will continue to grow and become more difficult to remove. The bacteria located in the plaque works with other organisms in the mouth to produce acids that can literally dissolve the structure of the tooth. Thus, a cavity is born!

However, fluoride can inhibit the ability of the bacteria to produce acid. The result is a reduction in the very activity that causes cavities.

Another benefit of fluoride is that it literally strengthens the teeth. In the process of cavity development, the acids developed by the bacteria in plaque can leech the minerals out of our teeth, thus sapping them of their strength.

However, as a naturally occurring element, fluoride can actually remineralize our teeth. Remineralizing acts like reinforcements as the teeth now have new troops to battle the invading acids! With this added mineralization, our teeth are made stronger and better able to fend off the affects of bacteria and plaque.

Given how effective fluoride has been at in the fight against cavities, most dentists recommend the continued use of public tap water as a great way to quench your thirst and protect your teeth. Visiting us at Rideau Dental Centre at least twice per year and receiving a fluoride treatment here is also a wise choice.

Not only do such fluoride treatments benefit children and their developing teeth, many adults with exposed roots due to receding gums are also well-served by fluoride. So make sure you receive your fluoride treatments from your dentist. Because using fluoride to fight cavities is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon