Fluoride is one of the most important substances that help with the prevention of decay in the mouth, while dental professionals recommend that the best way to prevent tooth decay and other oral health issues is to consume several sources of the compound.
The chemical, which is a naturally-occurring element that strengthens the pearly whites, is found in small amounts of water sources, as well as a number of foods including fish, eggs, tea and meat.
In some areas of the country, fluoride is physically added to the natural water, which is likely to result in improved oral health among those people who drink large quantities.
The outer layer of the crown of a tooth – known as enamel – is closely packed with minerals, which increase and decrease in quantity on a daily basis. In dentistry, a rise in the amount of these nutrients is referred to as remineralisation, while the loss is called demineralisation.
When the latter occurs, the type of bacteria that causes plaque on the pearly whites begins to form, which is able to feed on sugar found in the mouth to produce corrosive acids. Harmful substances are able to form if this occurs, dissolving the natural crystals.
Contrastingly, remineralisation builds the protective layer of enamel back up, as helpful materials including calcium, fluoride and phosphate are deposited inside the structure of the tooth.
Those people who experience a loss of the minerals without them being replaced are at increased risk of developing tooth decay, which could mean they require a number of expensive dental treatments in the near future.
If consumed in the right quantities, fluoride can help strengthen remineralisation and also stop bacteria from creating acids.
Young children can absorb the chemical into their teeth when they swallow food, as well as taking supplements and drinking specially fluoridated water.
This then enters the bloodstream and becomes part of the permanent fixtures that will develop as they get older, as well as helping to improve overall oral health and limit the risk of decay.
The use of mouth rinses can also help youngsters that have a history of cavities or a high risk of rotting, which are recommended for those over the age of six. Most of the time, these can be purchased in most shops, while prescription mouthwashes are also available.
Before undergoing this procedure, individuals need to ensure their pearly whites are as clean as possible, but a dental professional can polish away any remaining stains.
People who use fluoride treatments at home are advised to do so shortly before going to bed, as the substance is less likely to be washed or rinsed away during this time.
There are two common types of professionally-applied fluorides: acidulated phosphate fluoride (APF) – which is acidic – and neutral sodium fluoride, which is not.
The latter is commonly used among individuals who have dry mouth or tooth-coloured fillings, bridges or crowns because APF could irritate the areas that are affected by a lack of hydration.
Usually, supplements are applied in the form of a gel, foam or varnish after the teeth have been dried to prevent the chemical from becoming diluted. It can also be administered using a tray that looks similar to a mouth guard for between one and four minutes, or painted directly on to the pearly whites.
A dental professional will not prescribe more than 264 mg of fluoride tablets in a single sitting, depending on the individual needs of the patient. For this reason, people should avoid stocking up on the medication to ensure they do not overdose.
Those people who are considering undergoing this course of action should use their next check-up to enquire whether or not it is right for them.
Patients who have recently undergone this process should not eat, drink or smoke for at least 30 minutes afterwards, as it is likely this will negatively impact the effect the substance has on the pearly whites.
Fluoride treatment – as with the majority of other dental procedures – is only beneficial when it is administered properly, while it can be dangerous in high doses. Water fluoridation systems are monitored on a daily basis to make sure they contain safe levels of the substance.