Dental caries is said to be the most common disease worldwide. But over the past few decades, tooth decay has been reduced dramatically. Research has shown that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults. Daily intake of fluoride on an average is 1.7 to 3.3 mg. Out of total dry food, the intake is 0.2 -1.8 mg and average daily intake from water is 1.5 mg, as the optimal level of fluoride in water is 1 ppm.
Functions of fluorides
We have heard so much about fluoride, that it reduces the cavity formation; but how does this happen?
Fluoride acts in many ways. Following are the functions of fluoride. It helps in:
1. Cavity control
2. Early gum disease control
3. Advanced gum disease
4. Crown and bridge maintenance
5. Implant maintenance
6. Crown and root surface caries prevention
7. Sensitivity control
8. Post surgical rinse
How fluoride works
The mechanism by which fluoride increases caries resistance may arise from both systemic and topical applications of fluoride. Systemic effect of fluoride is by ingestion of fluoride tablets or drops and topical effect is when the teeth directly come in contact with the fluoride, like using fluoridated toothpaste, gels or applying fluoride varnishes. Before discussing how fluoride acts, first of all we should know how tooth decay is formed. The bacteria in the mouth ferment the food particles and produce acid. This acid causes the dissolution of tooth surface and hence the decay. If we want to reduce the incidence of caries, either we have to reduce the formation of acid or make the tooth surface resistant. Fluoride combines with the tooth surface and makes the enamel stronger, so that it becomes more resistant to acid attack, and its dissolution in the acid decreases. Along with this, it helps in remineralization of incipient lesions. Incipient lesions are early carious lesions, which, if detected early, can be remineralized, otherwise they become the carious lesion. If ingested systemically during the formation of teeth, it is said that fluoride alters the tooth morphology and teeth no longer remain caries prone. The incorporation of fluoride into the tooth enamel allows the tooth to be more resistant to demineralization by acid and ensuing tooth decay.
Sources of fluoride
The following are common sources of fluoride:
1. Fluoridated drinking water
2. Fluoridated salt
3. Toothpaste, gels, mouthwashes, pills, other dental applications
4. Processed cereals and other foods
5. Fish and seafood
Clinic: Heritage Dental