What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and occurs naturally in varying amounts in water sources such as rivers, lakes and even the oceans. Fluoride is naturally present to some extent in certain foods and beverages but the levels vary widely. To help protect teeth from cavities, fluoride is also added to some dental products such as toothpaste.
How Does Fluoride Protect Teeth?
Fluoride benefits both children and adults. Here’s how:
Before teeth break through the gums (erupt), the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements makes tooth enamel (the hard surface of the tooth) stronger, making it easier to resist tooth decay. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit.
After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides what is called a “topical” benefit.
In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth with tiny amounts of fluoride that help rebuild weakened tooth enamel.
What Is a Fluoride Varnish?
Fluoride varnish provides extra protection against tooth decay when used in addition to brushing. Fluoride varnish is a pale yellow gel that sets quickly when applied to teeth using a soft brush. The varnish sets quickly, has a pleasant taste and a fruity smell.
Scientific studies have shown that fluoride varnish gives added protection to teeth against decay when used in addition to brushing teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste.