Minerals are added and lost from the tooth’s enamel through demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization is when minerals are lost due to acid attacking the tooth enamel layer. Remineralization is when minerals such as fluoride, calcium and phosphate are redeposited to the enamel layer from the foods and water consumed. If there are too much demineralization and not enough remineralization to repair the tooth enamel, plaque will build up around the teeth, leading to tooth decay.
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay, by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria and sugar in the mouth, while also reversing early decay and making it difficult for acid to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride can be directly applied to the teeth through fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes. Your dentist may also apply fluoride to your teeth as a gel, foam or a varnish. Fluoridated gels and foams are applied via a mouth guard.
Although there are many countries with fluoridated tap water, in South Africa – particularly in Cape Town – the levels of fluoride in the water are much lower than is required to prevent the formation of cavities. In this case, a fluoride supplement for children will be of great value as it reduces the threat of cavities in children who are at a high risk. However, before fluoride supplements are prescribed, you should take in to consideration that most toothpaste brands and mouthwashes contain fluoride, but parents should monitor their children to ensure that they do not swallow their toothpaste.
In addition, people with conditions such as xerostomia and gum disease, will benefit from additional fluoride treatment which can be administered by a qualified dentist or oral hygienist. Contact us for a dentist in Cape Town.
WebMD “Dental Health and Fluoride Treatment”
Dental Health Foundation “Fluoride Toothpastes”