Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Every day, minerals
are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer through two processes, demineralization
and remineralization. Minerals are lost (demineralization) from a tooth ‘s enamel layer
when acids formed from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth attack the enamel.
Minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are redeposited (remineralization) to
the enamel layer from the foods and waters consumed. Too much demineralization
without enough remineralization to repair the enamel layer leads to tooth decay.
How fluoride acts to save our teeth?
a)Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from
plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth .
b)It also reverses early decay.
c)In children under 6 years of age, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent
teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth.
d)Fluoride also helps speed remineralization as well as disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth of both
children and adults.
In What Forms Is Fluoride Available?
As mentioned, fluoride is found in foods and in water. It can also be directly applied to the
teeth through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. Mouth rinses containing fluoride in lower strengths are available over the counter;stronger concentrations require a doctor’s prescription.
A dentist in his or her office can also apply fluoride to the teeth as a gel, foam, or varnish.
These treatments contain a much higher level of fluoride than the amount found in
toothpastes and mouth rinses. Varnishes are painted on the teeth; foams are put into a
mouth guard, which is applied to the teeth for one to four minutes; gels can be painted on
or applied via a mouth guard.
Fluoride supplements are also available as liquids and tablets and must be prescribed by
your dentist, pediatrician, or family doctor But these are not available in India.
When Is Fluoride Intake Most Critical?
It is certainly important for infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16
years to be exposed to fluoride. This is the time frame during which the primary and
permanent teeth come in. However, adults benefit from fluoride, too. New research
indicates that topical fluoride from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments are
as important in fighting tooth decay as in strengthening developing teeth.
In addition, people with certain conditions may be at increased risk of tooth decay and
would therefore benefit from additional fluoride treatment. They include people with:
1.Dry mouth conditions : Also called xerostomia, dry mouth caused by diseases
such as Sjögren’s syndrome, certain medications (such as allergy medications,
antihistamines, antianxiety drugs, and high blood pressure drugs), and head and
neck radiation treatment makes someone more prone to tooth decay. The lack of
saliva makes it harder for food particles to be washed away and acids to be
2.Gum disease : Gum disease, also called periodontitis, can expose more of your
tooth and tooth roots to bacteria increasing the chance of tooth decay. Gingivitis is
an early stage of periodontitis.
3.History of frequent cavities: If you have one cavity every year or every other year,
you might benefit from additional fluoride.
4.Presence of crowns and/or bridges or braces: These treatments can put teeth at
risk for decay at the point where the crown meets the underlying tooth structure or
around the brackets of orthodontic appliances.
As a preventive treatment for dental caries,especially in case of kids is the most important and most researched use of fluoride in dentistry today.Regular application of fluoride in topical form helps prevent caries to a great extent.