What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is able to protect teeth against decay. It is not a substitute for cleaning your teeth and eating healthily. It is found in toothpastes, mouth rinses and is added to public water supplies in some areas (not in London).
How does Fluoride work?
If fluoride is present in the mouth, together with minerals in saliva, it helps repair the damage done by plaque. Dental plaque is a soft sticky substance that builds up on your teeth. Plaque is mostly made up of bacteria in a biofilm which builds up in your mouth, on your teeth. The bacteria feed on sugar (from sugary foods and drinks), producing acids as a waste product. The acids attack the teeth by dissolving the minerals in the tooth structure and when this happens too often the damage results in tooth decay.
If fluoride is used in appropriate amounts by both children and adults it helps to make their teeth more resistant to decay.
How to get Fluoride in the correct doses to protect your mouth?
Most people get fluoride from toothpaste. Excessive amounts of fluoride ingested when young can cause unsightly marks on teeth which cannot be removed. Up to the age of 7, it is important that children use only the proper amount of toothpaste, the size of a small pea or the amount which can lie on the fingernail on their little finger is recommended. Parents should brush their child’s teeth morning and evening until children are at least 10 years of age.
The concentration of fluoride in toothpaste varies. Children under the age of three should use a smear or pea sized amount of toothpaste containing no less than 1000 ppm fluoride. Children over the age of three should use a toothpaste containing approximately 1450 ppm fluoride. No one should take additional fluoride unless it is recommended by their dentist.
Adults should use fluoride toothpaste (1450ppm) at least twice daily and can use a fluoride mouth rinse once or twice daily at other times than when they brush. After brushing or rinsing you should spit out but not rinse.