Tooth decay or dental caries are a common problem for both children and adults. Ineffective removal of tartar leads to the formation of plaque on teeth. As plaque adheres to the outer enamel of the tooth, decay can occur. If it is not treated promptly and properly, decay may progress deep into the tooth and its roots causing further damage. There are various measures individuals can employ to limit the damage plaque can cause, and hopefully prevent further tooth decay. Fluoride is widely regarded as having a substantial benefit in preventing dental problems.
Regular dental visits combined with good oral hygiene habits at home are ways to maintain optimal oral health. Dentists advise their patients to brush at least twice daily, in addition to flossing, to remove food particles trapped between teeth. It is recommended that individuals have access to fluoride through fluoridated public water supplies and by using toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride is known to effectively prevent tooth decay through strengthening teeth and blocking acid from damaging teeth, thereby reducing the effect plaque and bacteria have on teeth. Although the CDC notes that tooth decay rates have experienced a significant decline over the last three decades, likely due in part to more municipalities adding fluoride to their public water supply, tooth decay remains a chronic health issue for children ages 6-11.
The CDC is making consistent strides towards meeting their goal that by 2020, 79.6% of the population using public water supplies will have access to fluoridated water. Generally accepted as highly beneficial for a childÕs developing teeth, fluoride has demonstrated benefits for babies as well. Infants whose teeth have not yet broken through the gums benefit from the ability of fluoride to be absorbed into the tooth enamel, helping resist decay when the teeth do erupt. For older adults, fluoride can help reduce decay that occurs along receding gum lines and roots of teeth.
Tooth decay and dental caries, despite recent declines in the general population, continues to be a chronic health issue in the United States. Engaging in healthy oral hygiene habits, and ensuring that you are receiving optimal levels of fluoride daily, are effective ways of reducing the creation and progression of tooth decay. Fluoride is beneficial for all age groups and there are many ways available to ensure all individuals benefit from optimal amounts of fluoride.