Importance of Fluoride in Oral Health
The word ‘Fluoride’ is frequently used in toothpaste commercials but they rarely ever explain exactly how this naturally occurring mineral helps in maintaining optimal dental health. Readily found on soil and water, this compound makes the mineralized portion of the tooth stronger, giving it natural resistance to bacterial and acid attacks. It also repairs the tooth by promoting remineralization, thus preventing further decay. A structurally sound tooth fights caries better, and therefore contributes to the overall health of the oral cavity.
There are two ways in which fluoride can be introduced into the body; the first is via topical application, and the second is through systemic intake.
Topical Fluoride Therapy:
Fluoride can be applied topically to the surface of the teeth using oral hygiene products that contain the mineral, for example toothpastes and mouth washes. Fluoride can easily be absorbed into the teeth when applied directly to the surface in controlled, safe concentrations. This is way dentists all around the world encourage patients to opt for toothpastes that contain Fluoride as the active ingredient, instead of simply choosing ones that promise a whiter, brighter smile.
Dental surgeons also perform Fluoride Therapies in the office using gels and foams. During this procedure, the product is applied evenly on to the exposed surfaces of the teeth, or on teeth that are most susceptible to bacterial attacks. The Fluoride gel/foam is then left on for several minutes during which is it absorbed into the mineralized structure.
Systemic Intake of Fluoride:
Systemic intake in this case refers to ingesting fluoride supplements, fluoridated water, and food that is known to be rich in the mineral. This Fluoride passes through the gastrointestinal tract and is then absorbed into the blood. The blood cells distribute the mineral to the oral cavity where it is deposited into un-erupted, developing teeth, and it also makes the saliva rich in fluoride for a natural topical therapy.