Using Fluoride to Protect Your Teeth

You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and visit the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong?

Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating your teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth’s surface.

Fluoride comes in several varieties — systemic, topical and supplemental:

Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply or a supplement in the form of fluoride pills or drops. These are obtained with a prescription from your pediatrician or dentist. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. Systemic fluorides also provide topical protection because fluoride is present in saliva, which continually bathes the teeth.

Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. Topical fluorides strengthen teeth already present in the mouth, making them more decay resistant.

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