How Fluoride Can Prevent Cavities

Eating foods that contain simple sugars and starches provides nutrients for the growth of the types of bacteria that cause cavities. However, fluoride does not prevent cavities by inhibiting these bacteria.

Your teeth constantly release minerals and then take in new minerals. Extremely small amounts of fluoride in your saliva strengthen teeth by causing more minerals to enter teeth than leave them. Fluoride causes calcium phosphate crystals to form, which are incorporated into teeth as hard fluorhydroxyapatite.

The amount of fluoride in your saliva needed to strengthen teeth is so minute that it does not change the bacterial content of your mouth or saliva. Fluoride prevents cavities only when it is in saliva all the time, so you would need to get minute amounts regularly in your drinking water, toothpaste or mouthwash. Researchers are working on new methods to release fluoride slowly all the time into saliva.

1) JM tenCate. Current concepts on the theories of the mechanism of action of fluoride. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, 1999, Vol 57, Iss 6, pp 325-329.

2) J Ekstrand, A Oliveby. Fluoride in the oral environment. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, 1999, Vol 57, Iss 6, pp 330-333.

Checked 1/1/18

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