For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, which thereby helps to prevent decay of tooth structures.Water fluoridation is endorsed by nearly every major health and safety-related organization in the world. Communities make it a common practice to "fluoridate" their drinking supplies in order for the general population to benefit from this inexpensive and effective preventative treatment. According to the American Dental Association, more than 144 million U.S. residents in more than 10,000 communities drink fluoridated water, most from public water supplies with sodium fluoride added artificially.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical: Systemic fluoride is ingested, usually through a public water supply. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens the tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent cavities on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. A topical fluoride treatment in your dentist’s office takes just a minute. Depending on your risk factors, the recommendation may be to have a professionally applied treatment every three, six, or twelve months. Your dentist may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as a mouthwash, toothpaste, or gel for more frequent topical use.