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Fluoride Explained

A great smile can make you feel as good as you look, but it’s just as important that your teeth are healthy. Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, can play a big role in that. It keeps the enamel, the outer coating of our teeth, strong, protecting against cavities and tooth decay.

The benefits of fluoride

When we eat, bacteria in our mouth break down the carbs and sugar we consume. This then creates acid in our mouth, which can eat away at the minerals in our tooth enamel, a process called demineralization. Fluoride helps to remineralize our enamel, strengthening this outer layer of our teeth. Fluoride combines with your saliva to coat your teeth and then your enamel absorbs it.

“Fluoride can be used two ways in dentistry. It can be used in toothpaste and oral rinses to strengthen teeth from the outside in, and it can also be used as a vitamin supplement guided by a prescription from your dentist or physician, and is designed to strengthen teeth ‘systemically,’ or from the inside out,” says SmileDirectClub Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer.

While fluoride is commonly found in toothpaste, oral rinses and supplements, you may find fluoride in your every day life.

The history of fluoride

The health benefits of fluoride first became apparent in the 1920s when a group of children in Oakley, Idaho no longer had brown stains on their teeth after switching to drinking spring water that contained fluoride.

After that, cities across the U.S. began adding fluoride to water supplies, and now 73% of community water sources are fluoridated. Research shows that fluoride in the water supply prevents around 25% of tooth decay in both adults and in children. If your water supply doesn’t contain fluoride, it’s even more important to use fluoride toothpaste.

Fluoride recommendations

Fluoride is safe when used in the correct amounts, and its safety and benefits have been well documented. Both our water supply and toothpastes contain small amounts of fluoride.

“In the professional dental community, fluoride toothpaste is strongly advised to prevent cavities and strengthen enamel,” says Dr. Sulitzer. “Using fluoride toothpaste is the first step in maintaining good oral health.”

You should always spit and rinse after using toothpaste or mouthwash with fluoride in it. Some people use non-fluoride toothpastes, but that type of toothpaste won’t strengthen the teeth or adequately keep bacteria from growing like fluoride-based toothpaste does.

“Unless a doctor recommends otherwise, people of all ages should use toothpaste with fluoride to clean and protect their oral health,” says Sulitzer.

SmileDirectClub has two types of vegan and gluten-free fluoride toothpaste with no artificial flavors or preservatives. The whitening version brightens and defends smiles against cavities, while the one formulated for sensitive teeth repairs and protects sensitive areas of the mouth while also hardening tooth enamel.

 

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