Fluoride’s Role in Helping to Prevent Cavities

You can find a ton of advice on how to prevent cavities, most of which has at least some kernel of truth to them. However, it all boils down to how you treat your teeth; how well you take care of them, what you expose them to (and how often), and more. If you treat them well, your teeth can remain strong enough on their own to fight off the oral bacteria that lead to cavities. At our El Paso, TX, dental office, keeping teeth of all ages strong and healthy is an important goal of the preventive dental care we provide. That includes providing services such as fluoride treatment to help children avoid cavities and tooth decay by strengthening the enamel that protects their healthy, natural teeth.

What are cavities?

A cavity is a hole, or depression, that forms in a tooth when decay settles into it. The decay, or infection, is the result of oral bacteria interacting with a tooth’s main structure, known as dentin. When healthy, a tooth’s dentin should be adequately shielded from these bacteria by the enamel that surrounds it. However, enamel can become weak and eroded when exposed to harmful substances, like acids, that some oral bacteria constantly produce. Once the enamel is compromised, bacteria can easily slip past it, infect the dentin, and lead to a painful cavity.

The way to prevent them

The best way to prevent cavities is to prevent the erosion of the enamel that surrounds healthy teeth. For children, this may sometimes be more challenging. Younger children aren’t as adept at brushing and flossing bacteria (plaque) from their teeth every day. They’re also more apt to overindulge on sugary foods and beverages that stimulate bacteria to produce more acid. Therefore, in addition to routine dental checkups and cleanings, we may recommend a topical fluoride treatment, which involves carefully applying the mineral, fluoride, to the weakened bonds of your child’s tooth enamel.

What fluoride does for teeth

Fluoride is a mineral that interacts with the mineral crystals that form healthy tooth enamel. In fact, enamel is made almost entirely of minerals, and as acids attack it, they also deplete teeth of the minerals they need to strengthen it again. This process, known as demineralization, gives bacteria the time they need to infect a tooth and cause a cavity to form. When fluoride is applied to weakened tooth enamel, it can bond to the depleted mineral strands, strengthening them against the onslaught of oral bacteria. This gives your child’s healthy teeth a chance to remineralize and regain the natural strength of their enamel.

Learn if fluoride can help you prevent cavities

Combined with an excellent hygiene routine at home and a regular schedule of checkups and cleanings with your dentist, fluoride can give your child a significant advantage in preventing cavities. For more information, schedule a consultation by calling the Sunny Smiles dental office nearest you in El Paso, TX, today! We also have offices in Chaparral, Canutillo, and Vinton so we can easily serve patients throughout all surrounding communities.