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Dental Glossary


A halide element (small molecule) found commonly in water and foods. Low concentrations have been found to greatly lower the amount of cavities in our society. Fluoride's most beneficial effect is to remineralize (reharden) areas that have just been softened by decay. A new toothpaste, Enamelon, has some extra ingredients that make this remineralization process even greater. Dr. Groh did some research with this formulation at NIH over 15 years ago and found it to be very usefull. Fluoride is also a poison to many oral bacteria and thus prevents cavities and periodontal disease. Like any medicine, it must be used carefully. Heavier concentrations have been found to create mottling or staining of tooth enamel. Most communities today add fluoride to the drinking water supply and carefully monitor its concentration for safe health improvements. Very few bottled waters contain fluoride. Additionally, fluoride is removed by many water softeners and reverse osmosis units. Most municipalities offer inexpensive analysis to check the levels of fluoride in your drinking water to test for safe but effective cavity protection. Insufficient levels can be supplemented by dentists or pediatricians with prescription fluoride drops. Fluoride is also found in most toothpastes and in the mouthrinses Fluorigard and Act. Fluoride does occur naturally in some foods, most notably in tea leaves. In hot tea, most of the fluoride boils off; "sun tea" iced tea is a good natural source of dietary fluoride.