How Does Fluoride Fight Cavities?

Once it’s absorbed into your tooth enamel, fluoride works together with calcium and phosphate from your saliva to create the most powerful defense system your teeth can have to prevent cavities from forming. Tooth enamel, the outer covering of your teeth, is made from calcium and phosphate and is stronger than bone. Your saliva, is also rich with calcium and phosphate and bathes your teeth to keep them strong. When you eat candy, crackers, chips, or drink sugary drinks, cavity-causing bacteria start feasting on the carbohydrates in these foods. This produces acids that attack your enamel and causes the calcium and phosphate to be stripped from the tooth enamel, leaving you more vulnerable to decay and cavities. When your saliva has fluoride in it from sources such as toothpaste or water, your teeth are able to absorb it. Once it’s absorbed into your tooth enamel, fluoride works together with calcium and phosphate from your saliva to create the most powerful defense system your teeth can have to prevent cavities from forming.

Fluoride in Water Prevents Tooth Decay

Fluoride in your drinking water is one of the most efficient ways to prevent tooth decay. For more than 70 years, the best available scientific evidence has consistently proven that community water fluoridation is effective in preventing cavities for children and adults.

Community water fluoridation has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General, and more than 100 health organizations recognize the health benefits of water fluoridation for preventing dental decay, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and the American Dental Association (ADA). In fact, the CDCP named community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. By simply drinking fluoridated water, Americans can benefit from fluoride’s cavity fighting qualities.

Fluoride is found naturally in groundwater and in the ocean. Water fluoridation is the modification of fluoride to a recommended level for preventing tooth decay. It’s similar to fortifying other foods and beverages, like fortifying milk with vitamin D, salt with iodine, bread with folic acid and orange juice with calcium. Check here to see if the water in your community is fluoridated.

Are all Water Sources Created Equal?

Tooth decay among children (4 to 17 years old) decreased an average of 29 percent after water fluoridation, and currently decay among children and adults is on the rise again. Why? Non-fluoridated bottled water appears to be the culprit. More and more people are drinking bottled water and don’t take in enough fluoride to prevent cavities. If bottled water is your main source of drinking water, you are missing the decay-preventive benefits of fluoride, according to the ADA.

Tap water is not only a good source of fluoride, it’s also the environmentally and financially responsible choice for the H2O you drink. The statistics on bottled water are startling.

  • 4 billion pounds of plastic was used last year in U.S. bottled water production.
  • A gallon’s worth of single-serve bottled water costs almost $9.50 — nearly 2,000 times the price of tap water and is three times the national average price for a gallon of milk and four times the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline. Compare that to tap water, which costs fractions of a penny for the same amount of water; bottled water is thousands of times more expensive than tap water.
  • Landfills in the United States are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles and it takes up to 1,000 years for a single bottle to decompose, and is an enormous waste of valuable resources.
  • The healthiest and most economical way to drink water throughout the day is to get a reusable water bottle that you can fill with tap water.  You’ll do your part for the environment and fight cavities while quenching your thirst.

Fluoride Toothpaste is Another Great Source for Fighting Cavities

Good oral health starts with brushing at least twice a day and flossing at bedtime. The type of toothpaste you use is an important factor for achieving good oral health. There are so many choices when buying toothpaste, it can be confusing. Primarily, look for a toothpaste that has the American Dentist Association (ADA) seal of approval and look for one that contains fluoride. However, the type of toothpaste that is good for you, may not be right for your children. If you have specific questions about your family’s fluoride requirements, make an appointment to see  Dr. Ashley Niles of Niles Family Dentistry. She can recommend fluoride products based on your oral health and the needs of your family.

Dental check-ups twice a year with Dr. Niles is another great way to fight cavities. During your check-up she will check for tooth decay and know if you need additional fluoride treatments.

Dr. Niles: An Eco-Friendly Dentist

As a member of the Eco Dentistry Association, Dr. Niles is an Eco-Friendly dentist and is passionate about protecting all aspects of the environment, both in her personal life and in her office. She supports and practices a wellness lifestyle by riding her bike to work, and even offers a discount to those who ride their bike to their dental appointment.  

Dr. Niles is skilled in many areas of dentistry and demonstrates expertise in a comprehensive list of general, restorative and cosmetic dental care for the whole family. She also uses the most current cutting-edge techniques available in today’s world of modern dentistry.

Located in Niwot, Colorado at 136 2nd Ave. Suite 101, Dr. Niles provides dental care to patients in Niwot, Boulder, Longmont and other areas of northern Colorado.  Contact our office or call (720) 744-0001 to make an appointment.

When you ride your bike to your dental check-up with Dr. Niles, quench your thirst with a reusable water bottle filled with fluoridated tap water.  Your Eco-Friendly dentist, the environment and your mouth will thank you!

Ashley Niles

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