Fluoride, a mineral that is found naturally in water, plays an important role in tooth development and cavity prevention. Research indicates it helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making teeth more resistant to acid that causes cavities.
You can benefit from fluoride both topically and systemically. Topical fluoride is the type you receive at the dental office and when you use dental products containing fluoride, such as toothpaste. Systemic fluoride is ingested, commonly through a public water supply. In the United States, this applies to almost 74 percent of the population, according to the American Dental Association.
Fluoride taken in from drinking water and other beverages strengthens tooth enamel while teeth are forming under the gums, making them more resistant to cavities. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit.
After teeth are present in the mouth, fluoride helps rebuild weakened tooth enamel and reverses early stages of tooth decay. When you apply fluoride dental products, such as fluoride toothpaste, to the surface of your teeth you are providing a “topical” benefit.
The effective prevention of dental decay requires the proper mix of both systemic and topical fluoride.