Fluoride is a compound that contains fluorine, a natural element. Using small amounts of fluoride on a routine basis helps to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride encourages “remineralization,” a strengthening of weakened areas of tooth enamel. It also affects bacteria that cause cavities, discouraging acid attacks that break down the tooth.
Fluoride can occur naturally in water but is often added to community water supplies. It is found in many different foods, and in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels, and varnish. Fluoride is most effective when combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.
Children, between the ages of six months and sixteen years, may require fluoride supplements. We will consider many different factors before recommending a fluoride supplement – particularly since topical fluoride and professionally applied fluoride varnish have been shown to be the most effective and safe method of fluoride. Frequently, we recommend special toothpaste.