This article explains how fluoride helps keep teeth strong and healthy. Cavities that are not treated can cause pain, loss of teeth, and spread of infection. The good news is you can prevent most cavities with good dental care and fluoride.
What Is Fluoride? Why Is It Important?
Fluoride (FLOOR-eyed) is a natural mineral in all water sources — even oceans and lakes. Fluoride can prevent cavities in children and adults. Cavities can be caused by sugar and acid in our food and drinks. Fluoride helps protect tooth enamel (e-NAM-uhl), the hard outer surface of your teeth, from the acid attacks that cause cavities. It also helps repair weakened enamel before cavities form and reverses signs of decay.
What Is the Best Way to Get Fluoride?
Teeth get fluoride in two ways:
- when it is swallowed
- when it is put onto the tooth’s surface
To prevent cavities, it is best to get a little bit of fluoride both ways.