Ali, part of the team at The Silberman Dental GroupWritten by Ali Peters, RDH, at The Silberman Dental Group

Fluoride is very important to me and I want to help my patients understand why. Fluoride protects teeth against decay caused by plaque, the filmy substance left by food. Bacteria living in the plaque mix with sugar in the mouth. This causes acids to be produced that eat away at tooth enamel which can create a cavity. Fluoride helps protect teeth by making the enamel harder and more resistant to decay. Fluoride can even repair and rebuild enamel that has already started to decay. Additionally, fluoride is anti-bacterial and reduces the number of bacteria causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

There are two ways of achieving fluoride benefits: systemically and topically. Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually via the “city water” supply. Cities will add a regulated amount of fluoride to the water. In fact, according to the ADA website, community water fluoridation is noted as the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proclaimed community water fluoridation as “one of 10 great public health achievements.”

While teeth are forming under the gums as a child, the fluoride taken in from drinking water and other beverages strengthens tooth enamel making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit. When you brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste or receive a “fluoride treatment,” the teeth are receiving a “topical” benefit. The fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth without swallowing/ingesting the fluoride causing the outer tooth structure to become harder.

*I want my patients to understand that if you have well water, you may not have optimal fluoride levels in your water, or you may have excessive levels of fluoride. Kits are available to test your well water to determine how much fluoride is in your well water.

You may benefit from a topical fluoride treatment if any of these pertain to you:
• you are genetically predisposed to tooth decay
• you eat a lot of sweets or drink a lot of soda
• you don’t floss regularly
• you grew up in a city that didn’t properly regulate fluoride levels in the water supply
• you have well water
• you have sensitive teeth
• you only drink bottled water (no fluoride in bottled water)
• you just had a deep cleaning or gum therapy
• you have gingivitis

Check back next week. I will discuss “The Great Fluoride Debate.” 🙂

Feel free to call 240-435-4719 or ask us a question on Facebook if you have any questions. I am also happy to answer any questions emailed to