Fluoride, a natural mineral is found in many foods and also in water. Fluoride is lost through demineralization where the tooth’s enamel layer is attached by acids in the food and drinks that we consume. These acids are formed from plaque bacteria and sugars. From the food and drinks consumed, minerals are also replenished in the form of fluoride, calcium and phosphate in a process called remineralization.
Fluoride helps to prevent the tooth from decaying by making the tooth more resistant to acid attack from plaque and sugars. For children under the age of six, fluoride is important for the development of permanent teeth. Fluoride helps to speed up remineralization process and also prevents acid from attacking the teeth.
Fluoride can be found in food and water. It can also be directly applied through the use of fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. Over-the-counter mouthwash contains lower amounts of fluoride. For stronger concentrations, you would require a dentist’s prescription.
A dentist can also apply fluoride directly to the teeth in the form of a gel, foam or varnish. This method allows for a much higher amount of fluoride to be applied to your teeth than toothpastes and mouthwashes. Fluoride supplements are available in liquid or tablet forms and must be prescribed by the dentist, family doctor or pediatrician.
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