Diligence and consistency are two traits that often go hand-in-hand toward any type of success in life. That goes for keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top condition too. You can brush and floss with great care along with avoiding sugary foods and drinks, but your mouth might not be as healthy as you think. You could be suffering from a fluoride deficiency. And that's nothing to smile about.
What is Fluoride?
The element fluorine is found in the earth's crust as the fluoride ion, according to the American Dental Association. It also exists as parts of other mineral compounds in rocks and soil. When it comes to mouth health, fluoride works to prevent tooth decay. Tooth enamel constantly undergoes the processes of demineralization and remineralization. Demineralization happens when enamel loses minerals. Regaining those minerals is known as remineralization. That's where fluoride comes in. The saliva in your mouth acts as a vessel to transport the fluoride back into the enamel. Tooth decay is the result of a net loss of minerals from enamel.
Signs of Deficiency
Tooth decay is a red flag for a fluoride deficiency. Bacteria found in plaque that collects on teeth uses sugars and carbohydrates to produce acids. These acids, in turn, wear away tooth enamel.
Communities with a high rate of tooth decay in children is another sign. Most communities fluoridate the drinking water supply. Consuming fluoridated water reduces decay by 25 percent in children and adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Effect of Overall Health
The immediate concern with oral care is tooth decay. Rotting, decaying teeth can be associated with plaque development which can be related to gum disease. Since gum disease often goes undiagnosed, a person's overall health can be deteriorating without their knowledge. The bacteria that accumulates in the mouth as a direct result of gum disease can enter the bloodstream and lead to clogged arteries, heart disease and strokes.
There are several ways to replenish the fluoride supply in teeth that are deficient. You can try a few methods at home while others require a visit to your dentist.
- Topical: Toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride, such as Colgate Total® Cleant Mint Toothpaste, can be applied directly to teeth any time in the comfort of your own home.
- Bloodstream: Fluoride consumed naturally from water, foods and supplements gain access to the body via the bloodstream.
- Prescription supplements: Fluoride prescriptions are available only through a dentist or doctor.
- Professional treatment: A gel, varnish or foam fluoride application requires a visit to the dentist.
Fluoride is one of the many tools at your disposal to keep your mouth healthy and happy. The basis for protecting your teeth and gums starts with brushing at least twice per day. A brush such as the Colgate® 360°® Enamel Health™ Sensitive Toothbrush not only works to protect tooth enamel, but its raised tips protect the gums by getting those hard-to-reach spots. Be sure to complement all that brushing with daily flossing. And don't skip your regular dental checkups. If you think you have a fluoride deficiency, your dentist will be able to diagnose it and prescribe a course of treatment.