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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 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 1/1/17

May 30th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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