A natural mineral found in rocks and soil, fluoride can be found in a variety of water sources including some brands of bottled water. The amount of fluoride found naturally can vary widely but is present in both salt and freshwater as well as soil and some foods. Volcanic activity and weathering processes release fluoride, though production of fertilizers, smelting chemical manufacturing can also be a cause. Fluoride is an exceptionally useful mineral for the upkeep of good dental health.
How fluoride works
When a person consumes food and drink, bacteria in the mouth produces acid, which removes minerals from the surface of teeth. This process is called demineralization and can cause tooth decay. Elements such as fluoride and calcium are needed to help re-mineralize teeth and prevent or reverse the early stages of decay. Studies have shown that if children under 6 years of age are exposed to appropriate levels of fluoride, the mineral will become incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. This makes it harder for teeth to become de-mineralized by acids.
As previously mentioned, fluoride is a mineral and be found in natural water sources. In 1945, Grand Rapids in Michigan, USA, became the first city in the world to adjust the level of fluoride in its water supply to improve the oral heath of local residents. Since then, communities all over the world have followed the example and fluoridation has become the term to describe the process of adjusting the concentration of fluoride to a level that provides the optimal dental benefits.
Studies have consistently shown over the last 60 years that this method of improving oral health is both safe and effective, with reports showing reductions of tooth decay by 20-40% in communities with optimal fluoridation. Guidelines established by Health Canada state that the maximum acceptable concentration of fluoride in drinking water is 1.5 milligrams per liter.
Fluoride can also be found in toothpastes and mouse rinses; both over the counter and prescription varieties. Dentists can also apply fluoride directly to the teeth in a gel, foam or varnish form. For good oral health, it is recommended to use fluoride toothpaste twice a day to brush teeth. Fluoride toothpaste is effective to prevent tooth decay for both adults and children, though those under 6 years