Fluoride is an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures. In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.
Fluoride is absorbed into structures, such as bones and teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to fractures and decay. A process in your body called “remineralization” uses fluoride to repair damage caused by decay.
Simply drinking public water will provide a certain measure of fluoride protection. However, with the prevalence of bottled water, fewer people consume water with fluoride in it than in previous years so health professionals recommend supplementing that intake. Certain dietary products, as well as most toothpastes and some mouth rinses, also contain fluoride.
Today, most children will receive fluoride treatments during their dental visits. This concentrated fluoride, which is applied to the teeth, should remain on for one minute and should not be rinsed away for at least a half an hour. This fluoride will strengthen the enamel and make teeth more resistant to decay.