How Can Fluoride Improve Oral Health?
Fluoride is one of the vastly available minerals on earth. The benefit of fluoride for dentistry came to light only during the 1930s when researchers found that the mineral can potentially prevent tooth decay. The findings showed that regions where the drinking water had natural occurring fluoride, the majority of the population had fewer dental cavities when compared to other regions. In 1945, the City of Grand Rapids was the first community to add fluoride to the public water supply. The optimal level of fluoride that will help prevent tooth decay is 1ppm of fluoride in community water supplies. At this concentration, the signs of fluorosis are not seen. Since then all states in the USA have used optimally fluoridated water to reduce the prevalence of tooth decay and improve the health. This measure is recognized to be one among the 10 best health measures taken in the 20th century.
How can fluoride improve oral health?
Fluoride is a mineral which can prevent tooth decay and strengthen teeth. Bacteria causing dental caries reside in dental plaque which is a sticky organic matrix comprising of bacteria, food debris and salivary components that adhere to tooth enamel. Plaque is also a source of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Bacteria produce polysaccharides that enhance adherence of the plaque to enamel. When cariogenic bacteria act on fermentable sugars it produces acids that demineralize the enamel layer. Demineralization causes the loss of calcium, phosphate, and carbonate. These minerals are caught in the surrounding plaque and are available for re-uptake by the enamel surface. When fluoride is available in the saliva it increases the uptake of calcium and phosphate and forms an improved acid resistant structure called Flour apatite.
Fluoride can either be used topically or systemically to strengthen teeth. fluoride is used topically in the form of gels, toothpaste, mouth rinses, and varnishes. fluoride in toothpaste is an excellent source of fluoride that is readily taken up by plaque and demineralized enamel.
Community water supplies are the best sources of fluoride for systemic consumption.The fluoride concentration is adjusted to be 1ppm. Bottled water might not be a good source of fluoride. It is important to check the label to ensure that it has 1ppm of fluoride to reap the benefits.
Dietary fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, lozenges, or liquids are available. Most supplements contain sodium fluoride as the active ingredient. Tablets and lozenges must be chewed or sucked for 1–2 minutes before being swallowed to have the benefits of fluoride. For infants, supplements are available in liquid form. Once consumed, the fluoride gets distributed to the bone and developing teeth.