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Why do we need fluoride treatments?

I was talking to my colleague the other day about writing a blog and she suggested me to do one for fluoride so here I am.

Tooth enamel is mainly mineral, which gives its toughness.

Tooth enamel is mainly mineral, which gives its toughness.

So what is fluoride?
Fluoride is an inorganic material, the fluoride ion comes from fluorine: a chemical element. It can be found in soil, in water, minerals as well as ordinary food. It can also be made in laboratories to be added to water and dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwash.

Is fluoride a good or bad thing to us?
It has being a controversial topic ever since the intake of fluoride was introduced. Studies have shown that the concentration of fluoride is the most important.

A controlled concentration of fluoride can strengthen and protect our teeth and reduce the risk of developing decay. These can be found in water, toothpaste, mouth rinse or professionally applied foams;  gels and varnishes.

While abnormally high concentration fluoride or excess fluoride can cause dental fluorosis – tiny white specks in the enamel of teeth. In mild cases the tooth will be discoloured or having brown marks and this is called dental fluorosis. Too fluoride can lead to skeletal fluorosis which is a bone disease – severe cases there is damage to the bone and joints and there will be pain. Excess fluoride can be found in natural water, untested bottle water and dried fruits in some countries.

How does it work to protect our teeth?
Re-mineralization and protection from demineralization. This is basically the process of fluoride added to and lose from our teeth surface everyday. When acid – the combination of bacteria in the mouth and sugars attacks the tooth surface demineralization happens. Fluoride is gained and becomes a part of our saliva by drinking water, using toothpaste/ mouthwash or receiving fluoride treatment from a dental practitioner, it soaks our teeth constantly to provide a fluoride surface and this is the re-mineralization process.

The main mineral in tooth enamel is hydroxyapatite. When the enamel is remineralized in the presence of flouride ions, it will become fluoro-hydroxyapatite. This material is more acid resistant by dissolving at a lower pH than the original hydroxyapatite.

Who will benefit from fluoride?
Everyone. It is important that infants and children between ages 6 months and 16 years receives fluoride due to development of permanent teeth. As well as for adults, to protect permanent teeth and reducing the chances of getting decay.

So why do we need fluoride treatments? Beside protecting our teeth and reducing the risk. For those who hates to come in and see the dentist it's probably a good way to save you some fillings.