Fluorides are a large group of chemicals compounds formed when fluorine combines with other elements. It is a naturally occurring mineral in all water sources. Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of tooth decay. In the formation of teeth, fluoride is incorporated in the teeth and the resulting mineral structure is stronger. As a result, the enamel becomes more resistant to attack acids that form in the mouth and encourage tooth decay. Acid is formed when bacteria in plaque breaks down sugars and carbonates from food. Repeated acid attacks break down the tooth causing cavities.
Fluoride plays an essential role in the protection and strengthening the teeth. Most teeth enamel begins with a high concentration of fluoride in its outer layers, but the fluoride can dissolve over time. So whether ingested or applied topically with toothpaste, rinses or treatments, replenishing fluoride is one of the best ways to strengthen the tooth enamel and help it in resisting acids that can lead to cavity production.
Fluoride is obtained in two forms: topical and systemic. Topical fluorides strengthen teeth already that are already present in the mouth making them more decay resistant. They can be applied locally or professionally by a dentist by filling a mould of the teeth with solution or gel of fluoride and placing it in the teeth for a few minutes; daily use of fluoride toothpaste and use of a fluoride mouthwash.
Systemic fluorides are those that are ingested into the body and become incorporated into forming tooth structures. They give topical protection because fluoride is present in saliva, which continually bathes the teeth. They are incorporated into the system as building blocks and some of it will be returned to the mouth in saliva. They include water fluoridation or dietary fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops or lozenges.
Fluorides help in treatment of oral tooth sensitivity that is brought about by receding gums. They have the added benefits of proving extra protection on cavities. Fluoride vanishes are applied on exposed root surfaces. It works by blocking nerve endings on the exposed root areas hence alleviating sensitivity.
Fluorides help to inhibit bleeding and tender gums in early gum disease. It also helps prevent re- infection and sustain ongoing treatments in cases of advanced gum disease. They also prevent early implant deterioration by preventing plague, bad breath and irritation caused by dentures.