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Fluoride

Cavities or tooth decay is caused when the protein in your saliva combines with sugars and carbohydrates in food particles on or between your teeth. This bad combination creates plaque filled with bacteria. The acid from that bacteria eats away at the tooth enamel, creating dental caries or decay. Fluoride can keep this from happening, which is why it has been put into water systems throughout the United States. According to Oral Health America, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to raise awareness of oral health, cavity rates in school-aged children has declined significantly since 1970 due to more availability of fluoride sources. The ADA also says fluoridated water is very beneficial and cost effective for preventing decay.

The major source of topical fluoride in the mouth is saliva. Using fluoride-containing products, such as toothpaste, increases the concentration of it in saliva. Saliva neutralizes the acid produced by the bacteria, helping to keep the tooth from decaying. Eating a healthy diet and using good oral hygiene also increases the effectiveness of the fluoride.

Topical fluorides are used most often in children to prevent cavities in teeth as they come in. Researchers are now finding an increased rate of cavities in adults who are over 50, indicating it might be good to provide topical fluoride to these patients because it inhibits the growth of plaque bacteria.

Current recommendations by the ADA indicate that anyone with moderate risk of decay over the age of  6 should receive an application of topical fluoride twice yearly. These applications are available in three forms: gel, foam, and varnish.

Dentin Hypersensitivity

Caused by the exposure of dentinal tubules, dentin hypersensitivity can be the result of several things: gingival recession, cervical wear, erosion from diet (conditions like bulimia), or even after a patient has periodontal or restorative procedures. Applying a protective layer of calcium fluoride for this problem not only provides protection from tooth decay, it often relieves the pain caused by sensitivity.

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