Fluoride: How Important Is It? - Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Fluoride: How Important Is It?

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Woman holding up a sign that says "fluoride".

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fluoride is one of the top reasons that tooth decay statistics has significantly reduced over the last few decades. Fluoride has been proven to fight against cavities and tooth decay and is important for both children and adults. Fluoride and fluoridation are effective and safe methods for safeguarding your smile when used appropriately. Let us show you the many advantages of regular fluoride treatments!

Tooth Decay Is a Chronic Condition

Studies show that around 92% of people have had cavities. Tooth decay is when substances on your teeth cause the teeth to break down and decay over time. This can lead to tooth loss, nerve and blood vessel damage within a tooth, damaged smiles, health problems and more.


In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that tooth decay is actually one of the most prevalent, chronic diseases that people face. This is a worldwide issue, and yet, many people don’t even think about their oral health or their oral hygiene on a regular basis. The facts of tooth decay are alarming:

  • 18.6% of children 18 and younger have untreated tooth decay. 31.6% of adults up to age 44 also have untreated decay.
  • Numbers of people visiting the dentist decrease as a person ages over 65, while instances of tooth decay rise after age 65 as well.
  • More than 120 million Americans are missing or have lost a permanent tooth, and in many cases it is due to dental decay.
  • More than 36 million Americans have no teeth at all.
  • The average adult has lost about 3 permanent teeth due to dental decay.


Young boy in a dental office that is receiving a fluoride treatment

Combating the Decay

The CDC reports that about 85% of children are visiting the dentist each year, which is more than in years past. However, only 64% of adults are visiting the dentist. This means that about 36% of adults don’t see the dentist which is similar to the 32% of adults with untreated decay. Coincidence? Battling oral health problems isn’t all that hard if you do small, simple habits every day. Those include:

  • Brushing your teeth every single day, at least twice a day. This is a basic guideline, as brushing your teeth after every meal would help you avoid dental decay even more. Make sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste every time you brush, and brush for at least 2 minutes.
  • Floss 1-2 times a day. Make sure to scrape your teeth as you move the floss down your teeth.
  • See your dentist at least twice a year for biannual exams and dental cleanings. A dentist can give you tips for strengthening your teeth and for avoiding dental problems.
  • Use fluoride products so that your teeth have an extra defense against tooth decay.


Fluoride 101

There are many naturally-occurring minerals that can significantly benefit the human body. Fluoride is one of those minerals that does wonders for your oral health. A fun fact about it is that it is the 13th most abundant mineral on the earth’s crust. Too much fluoride in water and in high concentrations can cause damage. However, many areas around the world have optimal levels of fluoride naturally in bodies of water. In the United States, fluoride is added to the public water supplies, as fluoridated water is highly beneficial to every person’s oral health.


This mineral has been found to help strengthen the teeth. When a person drinks water and uses dental products containing fluoride, it’s as if they are adding a small shield of protection to their teeth. That protection reduces a person’s risk for tooth decay and helps strengthen the teeth by keeping minerals intact that are in the tooth enamel.


Young girl drinking public water from a spout

Using Fluoridated Products

Fluoride treatments are common in dental offices, especially during biannual exams and dental cleanings. After a thorough dental cleaning, the last step will be a fluoride treatment. This last between 30 seconds and 1 minute, but that fluoride treatment can strengthen your teeth for a long time afterwards. Many products such as toothpastes, gels and dental pastes contain fluoride. If a patient wants to reduce their risk for tooth decay at home, they should be using a fluoride treatment once-a-day or as directed by a dentist.


When a fluoride toothpaste is used, patients want to wait 30 minutes before they eat and drink so the fluoride minerals are not washed away from the teeth. You want to give your teeth enough time to bond with this mineral so they are strengthened and protected. Children benefit greatly from fluoride treatments, as they generally have a higher risk for tooth decay in their baby teeth.

The Importance of Fluoride

In many parts of the world, people don’t know how to get fluoride into their diet. It is not naturally occurring in food, and it is not found everywhere. Tooth decay was much more common in years past. After fluoride’s effect in saliva was found to reduce the degree of teeth demineralizing and becoming weaker, it was added to public water supplies. When people eat and drink throughout the day, they lose some of the minerals in their teeth. However, if they have fluoridated water in their diets or use fluoride products, their teeth keep their minerals better and their teeth stay stronger.


Fluoridated water was first practiced in the United States. Over time, the level of tooth decay in Americans decreased significantly. Now, more than 50 other countries and 435 million people worldwide have fluoridated water. The presence of fluoride in water reduces tooth decay by at least 25%. Using fluoridated products reduces the risk of tooth decay even more. When it comes to the question of how important fluoride is to your health, we say that it’s very important. If you would like to know more about how you can get more fluoride in your oral hygiene routine, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at (720) 887-6003!