Brush, floss, see the dentist, repeat. If you are conscientious about tooth care, you follow these steps religiously. You probably search for the most effective toothbrush and toothpaste and possibly own a water flosser. No matter what steps you take, you cannot afford to overlook fluoride in your dental routine.
Sources of Fluoride
Calcium fluoride is present in your bones and teeth. Supplementing this fluoride in the right amounts can help prevent tooth decay, which improves your overall health. Many cities and towns add fluoride to their water to help protect residents' teeth. This process alone is said to reduce children's cavities by more than 50 percent. What if you live in a more rural area? Well water may have small amounts of fluoride but usually not in high enough doses to protect your teeth.
Eating a well-balanced diet helps you get enough fluoride as well. Foods like potatoes, cucumbers, beans and spinach contain high levels of this mineral.
You can also protect your teeth by using fluoridated toothpaste and rinses, all of which are available in abundance at the store.
Correct Levels of Fluoride
While it's true that you can consume too much fluoride, most people do not ingest anything close to extreme levels. You do need to be careful with small children, though. In general, children do not need fluoridated toothpaste until they are two years old. Then, give them only pea-sized dabs. Do not give children fluoride rinses until your dentist recommends it, since too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition that causes discolored teeth. Rarely, people can suffer from fluoride poisoning; this happens most often when young children consume a large amount of toothpaste or fluoride rinse.
Adults need to concentrate on getting enough fluoride to fight tooth decay. Using it helps protect your enamel from the acid you consume. Fluoride also helps to remineralize your teeth, which helps fight off decay and tooth disease. Fluoride can't repair actual cavities, but it can repair limited tooth decay.
Your dentist is always the best source for tooth care information. They can advise you on how much fluoride you need in your diet and in your tooth care products. Be certain to consult your dentist on the best products and methods for everyone in your family.