Happiness Redefined!
The man with toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound.
— George Bernard Shaw
Since childhood, we are advised to use fluoride products to maintain oral health. The mineral fluoride has long been hailed as a way to keep teeth healthy and strong. Be it toothpaste, mouth rinse, or gels—fluoride in these products is crucial for proper growth and maintenance of teeth. Use of fluoride is especially recommended to treat and prevent tooth decay. It may help arrest and even reverse dental decay. So, how does fluoride help to protect your pearly whites from decay? The following Buzzle article explains this in detail.

How Fluoride is Helpful in Keeping Tooth Decay at Bay

Promotes Tooth Remineralization
Dental remineralization is one of the most important benefits of fluoride therapy. Remineralization involves restoring normal mineral balance in a tooth. As we all know, tooth decay is often the result of the gradual mineral loss in a tooth. Also known as demineralization, it strips the tooth of its mineral content, which often occurs due to poor oral hygiene. However, fluoride therapy helps to restore the normal mineral levels of the affected tooth, which may lead to reverse tooth decay.

Fluoride does an excellent job of drawing minerals to facilitate the remineralization process. So, when fluoride from saliva gets deposited on the affected enamel (the visible hard, white substance that makes up the outer covering of a tooth), it draws more minerals, especially calcium, to the demineralized site. It boosts the concentration of calcium at plaque-affected sites. To put it simply, fluoride sets the stage for the return of the lost mineral content of the enamel. It helps to correct the damaged part of the enamel. Thus, minerals 'making a comeback' contribute in reversing the demineralized state of a tooth. So, one can say that fluoride, with its capability to attract minerals, induces remineralization, which helps to treat and prevent tooth decay.

Promotes Decay-resistant Teeth
The remineralization process tends to make teeth decayproof. A tooth is primarily made up of hydroxyapatite, a crystalline calcium phosphate. However, after remineralization, a tooth becomes tougher due to the presence of acid-resistant fluorapatite. Fluorapatite, in comparison to hydroxyapatite, is much better in combating tooth decay. Thus, the rebuilt tooth post-mineralization is stronger and more resistant to tooth decay.

Restricts Formation of Acid Waste
The bacteria in our oral cavity thrive on food that are high in sugar content. These bacteria produce acid waste, which is known to damage the enamel and cause tooth decay. Fluoride not only restricts bacterial growth but also hinders these microorganisms from using sugar properly, thus resulting in the decreased production of acid waste. All this contributes in reducing the risk of tooth decay.

Makes Bacteria Less Sticky
In the presence of fluoride, the bacteria find it difficult to stick to tooth surfaces as found out by German scientists. The research published in Langmuir, a scientific journal, involved usage of artificial teeth to study the impact of fluoride. The study found that fluoride compounds interfere with the ability of bacteria to cling to tooth enamel. Thus, fluoride combats bacteria by restricting their ability to adhere to the surface of teeth. This also helps in decreasing the rate of tooth decay.

Precautionary Measures to Keep Tooth Decay Away

As fluoride plays a key role in keeping tooth decay at bay, it is crucial to use fluoridated toothpaste for brushing. Using non-fluoridated toothpaste is unlikely to protect you from tooth decay. Also, make sure that you brush twice daily and in case you are using a mouthwash, choose one that contains fluoride.

Certain brands of toothpaste contain a high amount of fluoride, which can lead to dental fluorosis. To avoid such dental issues, make sure the toothpaste is stamped with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. ADA approval ensures that the toothpaste contains normal levels of fluoride.

Food you eat is a major factor in determining your dental health. You need to minimize the intake of sugary products, such as candies, cookies, cakes, pastries, and include phosphorus- and calcium-rich eatables for optimal dental health.

Apart from flossing regularly, don't forget to wash your mouth with water after every snack and meal.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.