Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps to strengthen teeth and protect them from cavities caused by dental decay. Dental decay happens when the sugars in the food and drink we consume interact with the bacteria in the mouth and produce a sticky film on the teeth called plaque, and plaque acids. If plaque and these acids are not removed from our teeth promptly, they can start to cause damage to them. Plaque acids will eventually erode the outermost layer of the tooth, exposing the softer, inner sections which are more sensitive and will cause you to experience pain. If decay is left untreated, eventually it can penetrate the innermost part of the tooth known as the pulp. This is where the roots are located and if they become affected by decay, they will be unable to deliver blood and nutrients to the tooth to keep it healthy. The tooth may die and fall out or require extraction.
Studies have shown that fluoride treatment is highly effective at providing additional protection against tooth decay provided it is applied at least twice a year. For this reason, many dentists are now offering fluoride treatment alongside your regular, six-monthly dental check-ups. It is especially recommended for those patients who are at higher risk of developing cavities.
There are various groups of people who are more likely to suffer from dental cavities and would significantly benefit from fluoride treatment. These include people:
with poor oral hygiene
who use drugs or drink alcohol to excess
with a particularly poor diet
who have weakened dental enamel
who suffer from dry mouth
who haven’t seen a dentist in a long time