What is fluoride and why is it used in dentistry?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Yes, nature made. The fluoride ion is a derivative of fluorine. It is naturally found in low concentrations (approximately 0.1-0.3 ppm) in water and food sourced from river or rain water. Seawater is also found to contain fluoride, though in slightly greater concentrations. Well-water varies in fluoride concentration based on soil sedimentation. Some foods and beverages contain fluoride as a byproduct of these natural water-based sources. Our community water source is treated, as a public health measure, to provide optimal ranges of fluoridation with the intention to reduce cavities.
Water fluoridation can be removed at home utilizing reverse osmosis filtration systems.
When discussing fluoride, you must consider systemic versus topical supplementations. Some communities are without water-sourced fluoride and therefore are seen to have increases in cavity activity. These patients may receive systemic fluoride vitamins, based on risk factors. Toothpaste and mouthwash are topical formularies of fluoride, as is our professional application of fluoride foam or varnish, applied following the dental cleaning (prophylaxis). Fluoride reduces cavity risks by becoming incorporated into the enamel directly, re-mineralizing the enamel and providing greater barriers to future acid demineralization attacks.
How do we use Fluoride?
Our office follows the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in that topical fluoride, applied by a dental professional on a regular schedule, helps to reduce cavity risks. We take into consideration a patient’s age, cavity-risk, sugar consumption and oral hygiene when considering their fluoride needs and frequency. Learn more about the support and understanding of fluoride as provided by the American Dental Association (ADA).