Fluoride: Protects teeth for life

by Senior Airman Benjamin Martinez 86th Dental Squadron

Photo by Lorelyn Medina/Shutterstock.com

There is more to keeping teeth healthy than daily brushing and flossing. The American Dental Association recommends using a soft-bristle tooth brush and floss to keep our teeth clean along with another great aid, fluoride, to help protect our teeth.

Our daily consumption of carbohydrates and sugars is food for bacteria, or sugar bugs, which produce a byproduct of acids that can harm and damage teeth.

This is where fluoride comes into play. It helps protect teeth from those acids by strengthening the outer tooth structure. Fluoride can help reverse early signs of cavities and is actually all natural.

Fluoride is derived from the natural occurring element, Fluorine. Fluorine is an abundant element in the earth’s crust, which is mixed with minerals in rocks and soils. As water passes by those rocks and soils, fluoride is dissolved into the water. This results in small amounts of fluoride present in water sources around the world.

There are two ways that fluoride helps teeth: topically and systemically. Topically, fluoride strengthens teeth already present in the mouth. Topical fluoride provides local protection and can also be incorporated in saliva. Topical fluoride can be found in most common dental products, such as toothpaste, mouthwash and even some floss. Systemically, fluoride is ingested into the body and then released to the developing teeth. It is deposited throughout the entire tooth, essentially strengthening the tooth from the inside out. Therefore, it is imperative for kids to be exposed to water with fluoride. Water on Ramstein and Landstuhl has fluoride and the water on Vogelweh and off base does not.

If you or your children are not regularly drinking water with fluoride, you may purchase water with the optimal amount of fluoride at both the commissary and the Exchange. Most of the brands with fluoride have a red top, but be sure to read the label to make sure you are getting water with fluoride. Fluoride is an amazing aid to help keep you and your family’s teeth strong for a lifetime.

During the month of February, the 86th Dental Squadron celebrated “National Children’s Dental Health Month” and visited Ramstein elementary, intermediate and middle schools to talk with your children about their dental health.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for your child, call the Ramstein Dental Clinic at 479-2210 or 06371-46-2210.