While debate continues about the ethical and safety issues of adding fluoride to public drinking water, there is little argument among dentists that fluoride, whether ingested in small amounts or applied topically, prevents dental caries. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control lists fluoride’s ability to fight cavities as one of the top 10 health discoveries of the 20th century.
Naturally present in water and in some foods like chicken and grapes, fluoride in small amounts helps make teeth more resistant to acids from sugars and plaque bacteria, and can possibly even reverse tooth decay in some circumstances. For young children, fluoride can strengthen developing teeth making them harder and more resistant to decay.
But sometimes, especially in areas where drinking water is not fluoridated, children and others with certain conditions like dry mouth or gum disease may not get adequate amounts of fluoride from diet alone. In these cases, dentists may recommend supplemental fluoride. Flouride treatments may include gels or foam that is administered at the dentist’s office by be painted on or applied with the use of a mouth guard. It could also include fluoride supplements taken in the form of a tablet or liquid.
For those who are more at risk of tooth decay and for parents who want to ensure their children are getting adequate fluoride, it is always a good idea to consult you dentist during one of your regular dental visits.
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