One key to good oral health is fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent cavities and can repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of the disease. Fluoride can be obtained in two forms: topical and systemic.
Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth enamel. Some examples include fluoride toothpastes and mouthrinses, as well as various treatments that are provided in the dental office.
Systemic fluorides are those that are swallowed. Examples include fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplements. Because of its contribution to the dramatic decline in tooth decay in the United States since the 1960’s the CDC named community water fluoridation one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
The maximum reduction in dental caries is achieved when fluoride is available both topically and systemically. If you, or a family member, are at a moderate-to-high risk of developing cavities, discuss with your dentist how the various forms of fluoride treatment might help.