Bacterial plaque and sugar produce acid in the mouth, which can soften and eventually damage tooth enamel. Demineralization is the process by which the acid erodes minerals from the teeth. After eating, acid in the saliva attacks calcium and phosphorous beneath the surface of the tooth. This can lead to cavities and tooth decay if untreated (if the minerals are not restored). Fluoride is a strong defense against cavities and tooth decay.
Like calcium and phosphate, the presence of fluoride works to remineralize tooth enamel, making the teeth more resilient to acid caused by plaque and sugar. When the saliva contains less acid, the process of remineralization takes place. This is when the saliva restores these useful, protective minerals.
Benefits of fluoride toothpastes:
When applied topically, toothpaste with sodium fluoride can prevent tooth decay and root caries in adults.
Adults prone to cavities, and those suffering from gingivitis or dry mouth can benefit from topical fluoride.
In addition, brushing with topical fluoride has its advantages for children, especially those who are cavity prone.
Dr. Smigel explains the benefits of fluoride for babies:
"Fluoride ingested by the pregnant mother or more importantly by the infant from birth benefits the teeth as they are forming. It gives them an inherent hardness (from within), the best possible protection against decay."As children grow, the accumulation of fluoride in their bones helps to strengthen their permanent (adult) teeth even before they develop.
How do you ensure you’re obtaining a sufficient amount of fluoride?
Scientific research has discovered that those who lived and grew up in areas with natural fluoride in their drinking water developed less tooth decay than in areas where fluoride was not present in the water. Scientists have also discovered that adding sodium fluoride to the water supply of certain areas reduced the risk of tooth decay in children who had been drinking the water since infancy.