Fluoride and oral health

Fluoride works in three ways to help protect our teeth from decay.

  • Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to decay by strengthening the tooth surface.
  • Fluoride interferes with the growth of the bacteria which cause cavities.
  • Fluoride helps to repair the early stages of tooth decay.

The belief that only children benefit from fluoride is outdated. There is now increasing evidence that fluoride is especially effective in controlling root-surface caries.

While fluoride incorporated into forming tooth enamel before eruption may help to prevent decay, the presence of fluoride at the surfaces of teeth after eruption has been shown to be the main mode of action. This is why the beneficial effect of fluoride is available to all individuals of all ages with natural teeth.

Research is suggesting that the incidence of dental caries can be high among adults (Hand et al 1988). Exposed root surfaces in older people are more likely to decay, with the risk being even greater in those whose salivary flow has diminished.

Research also indicates (Kidd et al 1992) that fluoride may have benefits in reducing the incidence of secondary or recurrent caries activities, which is thought to be responsible for approximately half of all fillings placed in adults. The use of fluoride to prevent dental caries is therefore beneficial to young children, and adults alike with importance also for people with physical, medical or mental disorders.

The role of fluoride in water has been examined in many locations and in many countries. Repeated findings are that the caries experience of children living in fluoridated areas is lower than those living in non fluoridated areas (Murray et al 1991: Lee and Dennison 2004).

The role of fluoride in water has been examined in many locations and in many countries.

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