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Fluoride and the Prevention of Tooth Decay

A recent study conducted by the University of Calgary has reaffirmed the importance of fluoride in preventing tooth decay, especially amongst children. The study looked at grade 2 students in Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary stopped adding fluoride to the city’s drinking water supply in 2011, while Edmonton continues to add fluoride to its water. The study found that Calgary students had significantly more cavities than their Edmonton counterparts, highlighting the important role fluoride plays in preventing tooth decay.

Fluoride not only helps to prevent cavities but, according to the American Dental Association, also works to reverse the early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources both fresh and salt. The fluoride ion is derived from the element fluorine which is abundant in the Earth’s crust. However, fluorine is never encountered in its free state in nature, and is only ever found in combination with other elements such as fluoride.

Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening the tooth structure, making teeth more resistant to acid. Acids form when the bacteria in our mouths encounters the sugars and carbohydrates found in food. If this acid is not cleaned away regularly by brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash the acid stays on your teeth and gums and causes tooth decay and gum disease. Fluoride is also highly effective at repairing areas where acid has began to cause tooth decay and makes teeth more resistant against acid in the future.

Fluoride is found in two forms: topical and systemic. Topical fluorides strengthen existing teeth by making them resistant to decay. Topical fluorides include toothpastes, mouthwashes and professionally applied fluoride therapies. Systemic fluorides are fluorides that are ingested into the body and become incorporated into forming tooth structures. Systemic fluorides are particularly beneficial for children who are gaining their baby teeth or losing their baby teeth in preparation for their adult teeth. Systemic fluorides also grant topical protection because fluoride that is ingested becomes incorporated into our saliva, which continually bathe our teeth. Though the most common form of systemic fluoride is in drinking water you can also obtain fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops or lozenges.

For more information about the benefits of fluoride, or to book an appointment, call the Marlborough Dental Clinic today at 403.248.2066 and visit

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