The introduction of fluoride into a water supply has been recognised as one of the top ten community level health prevention strategies in history. It is estimated that for every $1 spent on water fluoridation for a community that $26 of treatment is avoided. This is achieved by increasing the amount of fluoride (which is already naturally occurring in water) up to around 0.7-1.2 parts per million.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to help prevent tooth decay from progressing. It has also been shown to stop, or even reverse early tooth decay.
In the early stages of tooth decay, the outer enamel surface of your tooth begins to demineralise. This means that the mineral structure that makes up your tooth slowly begins to dissolve in the presence of acids. At this stage, the correct use of fluoride is hugely beneficial. The fluoride mineral is able to replace some of the lost minerals in a process known as remineralisation. It bonds strongly into the enamel matrix and strengthens your tooth making it less vulnerable to decay.
The use of fluoride toothpaste twice daily supplemented by drinking fluoridated water will mean that over time the fluoride ions bond with calcium and phosphate ions already present in your teeth to form a mineral known as fluorapatite. This mineral reinforces the hydroxylapatite already present in the enamel matrix of your tooth.
The result is that your teeth become much more resistant to demineralisation in the presence of acid. In fact, teeth with fluorapatite minerals throughout the enamel matrix have a critical pH of 4.5 compared to a critical pH of around 5.5 for teeth with hydroxylapatite minerals only.
For the chemistry buffs out there this means that your teeth are around ten times more resistant to acid attack as the pH scale is a logarithmic scale. For each single unit decrease on the scale, the acid has to be ten times stronger to break down your tooth structure. The message is clear.
Use fluoridated toothpaste twice daily
- Kids toothpaste should have 400-500ppm fluoride, use a pea sized amount
- Adult toothpaste should contain 900-1000ppm fluoride, use a small strip on a soft toothbrush
Drink tap water regularly – Warrnambool has a fluoridated water supply
- Bottled water contains very little fluoride if any depending on the brand
Fluoride tablets are no longer recommended due to the increased risk of fluorosis. Please ask us if you have questions regarding this.
If the dentist thinks you or your child needs more fluoride, you may be advised to:
Apply a fluoride gel or varnish to tooth surfaces (usually done in the clinic)
Recommend using a fluoride mouth rins