What Does Fluoride Do to Protect Your Smile?

A person can say a lot with just a smile, but they can say even more by hiding it. It's easy to feel unwilling to show off your pearly whites if you're not confident about your oral health. Most people understand the importance of brushing and flossing, and although it's a good start, it's not the end-all to healthy teeth. Treating your teeth with fluoride is, in many ways, a necessity to an oral care regimen. Here's what you need to know if you've ever wondered: What does fluoride do to improve your mouth?

How Fluoride Works

Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in the Earth's crust, and today is added to many foods, public water supplies and oral care products. It's even been referred to as "nature's cavity fighter," according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

As bacteria and sugars form acids that slowly lead to decay, fluoride works to strengthen the enamel, the protective surface around all your teeth, so they don't succumb to it. Before a baby's primary teeth start to emerge, their enamel is strengthened by the fluoride consumed through foods and beverages. When teeth break through the gums, these natural sources of fluoride help rebuild any weakened enamel as they grow in.

Not Just for Kids

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay in adults as well as children. The fluoride found in toothpaste and mouthwash, known as topical fluoride, works on people of any age. Adults need to be careful if they only consume bottled water, though. Because many brands aren't fluoridated, additional treatment might be needed alongside a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Discuss this concern and potential treatment options with your dentist to ensure your daily routine includes an adequate amount.

Fluoride in Water

As may be the case in your community, water companies add fluoride to local water supplies as well. Just turn on your faucet and fill your cup for an instant fluoride treatment. Adding fluoride to a community's water supply in this way has many benefits, as noted by the ADA:

  • Water that contains fluoride prevents tooth decay in children.
  • Fluoride is naturally found in ground- and ocean water, so water fluoridation sets an appropriate level for fighting tooth decay.
  • Community water fluoridation has been proven to be safe and effective for over 70 years. The practice has been endorsed by the American Medical Association (AMA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after ample research on its safety.
  • In addition to preventing tooth decay in children, it also protects adults from cavities.
  • For every $1 a city invests in water fluoridation, $38 is saved in dental costs, yielding a hefty financial benefit over time.

Proper oral health starts with a good plan of attack. That means brushing at least twice a day with your Colgate® Enamel Health® 360® Toothbrush and flossing daily to remove plaque that collects between each tooth, and don’t forget: schedule regular dental cleanings. So, what does fluoride do to keep your teeth healthy? Talk it over with your dentist at your next appointment to see if you're enjoying the benefits.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

More Articles You May Like


You can get the benefits of fluoride from different places. It can work from an external source and from the inside of your body. To work the best, you need to get it from both. At home, you and your family should brush with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day for two minutes, especially after eating breakfast and before bedtime.