What is fluoride and why do I need it?

Braces at Warragul Dental Care

Each time you pick up a toothpaste tube or go to the dentist, you’re surrounded by this thing called ‘fluoride’. It sounds pretty important, and it’s definitely hard to spell. So what is it?

Well, fluoride is actually a naturally occurring compound that can be found in plants, rocks and at very low levels in almost all fresh water.

Fluoride is important for teeth because it helps prevent the dreaded tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when acid destroys the outer surface of the tooth. The acid is produced by bacteria in the mouth and caused by consuming food and drinks that contain sugar.

Fluoride works by helping to strengthen the mineral structure of teeth. It acts like a repair kit, repairing the early stages of tooth decay before it becomes permanent.

Fluoride is so important that we even drink it in our water. Since mid 2010, 90% of Victorians receive fluoridated drinking water (water that has had fluoride added to a level that protects teeth against tooth decay). Fluoridated drinking water is not available to all Victorians because some households don’t have mains water, and not all mains supplies can be fluoridated. While Warragul has fluoridated water smaller surrounding towns like Neerim South do not.

Adding fluoride doesn’t alter the taste or smell of water so you may not know if you’re drinking it or not. You can enter your postcode in the link below to see if you live in a fluoridated area:

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/water/water-fluoridation/water-fluoridation-in-victoria

If you don’t have fluoridated water just let us know at your next Dental appointment and we can advise you on the best option to keep on top of your oral health and prevent cavities.

For good oral health follow we recommend the following:

  • Clean your teeth and along the gum line at least twice a day.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste appropriately:
    • For children aged up to 18 months, clean teeth as soon as they appear (around 6 months of age) using a soft toothbrush with a small head. Use only water, do not use toothpaste.
    • For children aged 18 months to 5 years, seek advice from an oral health professional about whether your child should use a low-fluoride toothpaste or standard fluoride toothpaste.
    • For people aged 6 years and over, seek advice from an oral health professional about whether you should use a standard fluoride toothpaste or a higher-strength fluoride toothpaste.
  • Drink plenty of water every day.
  • Limit your intake of sugary carbonated drinks, fruit juice and alcohol.

The contents of this blog post are of a general nature only and may not apply to your specific circumstances. As every person is different we always recommend that you visit a qualified dental practitioner to obtain tailored dental advice to suit your own specific needs.

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