What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a safe compound found throughout nature; in the water we drink and the air we breathe, and in many kinds of foods.
Why is Fluoride Important to Teeth?
Fluoride can be absorbed into the internal matrix (dentin) and external matrix (enamel) teeth to enhance the strength of the tissue. If fluoride is absorbed while the teeth are in the formative stages, the resulting tooth structure is much more cavity-resistant. Fluoride can also be taken up into bones, allowing them to become more resistant to fractures.
Topical application of fluoride, such as using fluoride toothpastes and/or rinses, allows for the process of “re-mineralization” to occur. This is a process where the fluoride replaces calcium in the enamel matrix that has been removed by acid. The result is that the enamel tissue actually repairs itself. Once a cavity gets into the dentin matrix a filling must be used to repair the tooth.
It is generally NOT safe to swallow toothpastes, rinses, or other products containing topical fluoride. In rare cases, exposure to high concentrations of fluoride can result in a relatively harmless condition called fluorosis, which leaves dark stains on tooth enamel.