Fluoride is the most effective agent available
to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral
that is naturally present in varying amounts
in food and water supply. Presently fluoride
is absent from drinking water in Zephyrhills
and most of Pasco county. The benefits of fluoride
have been well known for over 50 years and are
supported by many health and professional organizations.
Fluoride works in two ways:
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth
once they have erupted by seeping into the outer
surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth
more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride
by using fluoride containing dental products
such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels.
Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend
that children have a professional application
of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.
Systemic fluoride strengthens the teeth
that have erupted as well as those that are
developing under the gums. We gain systemic
fluoride from most foods and community water
supply, when available. It is also available
as a supplement in drop or gel form and can
be prescribed by your dentist or physician.
Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for
infants, and tablets are best suited for children
up through the teen years. It is very important
to monitor the amounts of fluoride a child ingests.
If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth
are developing, a condition called fluorosis
(white spots on the teeth) may result.
Although most people receive fluoride from food
and water, sometimes it is not enough to help
prevent decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist
may recommend the use of home and/or professional
fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent
tooth decay! It is important to brush at
least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced
meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your
dentist on a regular basis.