Every time you brush your teeth, visit your Pella dentist, or drink tap water, you are probably coming into contact with fluoride. Fluoride is often discussed in the dental world, but do you really know where it comes from, or how it benefits your teeth? Your Pella dentist is here to give you a brief lesson on the discovery of fluoride and why you should be using it.
A Diagnosis of Fluorosis
When tales of small Colorado communities with brown stained teeth reached the ears of dental professional, Dr. Frederick McKay, he set out to conduct research in 1909 on the causes of this unsightly phenomenon. McKay found that high levels of fluoride in the local water supply were resulting in teeth that were not only stained and mottled, because of what is now known as fluorosis, but also surprisingly resistant to decay. Later, researchers would determine that a fluoride concentration of between .7-.12 ppm would help to strengthen teeth, without not expose them to enough fluoride to cause the Colorado Brown Stain. These discoveries ultimately led to the public fluoridation of most water systems in the US, a practice that continues to this day.
How Does Fluoride Help Teeth?
The Colorado children in McKay’s studies had virtually no cavities, thanks to the intense fluoride treatment available in their natural water supply, but what was the mechanism by which fluoride protected their teeth? When bacteria in the mouth secrete harmful acids, the minerals present on the tooth surface dissolve, in a process called demineralization. After the neutralization of these acids by saliva, minerals return to the tooth surface, in a process called remineralization. Fluoride aids this process in three ways.
First, in the developing teeth of children, fluoride fortifies the structure of the enamel, make growing teeth stronger and more resistant to the acids secreted by bacteria. Second, topical application of fluoride to adult teeth greatly facilitates the process of remineralization, and allows enamel crystals that have been reformed to be stronger, and more resistant to bacteria-acid. Lastly, fluoride attacks bacteria directly, and inhibits its ability to produce acids.
Protect Your Teeth –Visit your Pella Dentist Today
Fluoride is an excellent way to help protect teeth, which is why your Pella dentist recommends that you brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, in addition to flossing and visiting our Pella dental office at least twice a year for a checkup and cleaning. Dr. Jeffrey Allen provides comfortable dental care to patients of all ages. Call (641) 628-1121 today to schedule a checkup and cleaning, cosmetic consultation, or second-opinion visit. Allen Family Dentistry is located on the west side of the historic town square in Pella, IA. Please see the map for directions.