How Does Fluoride Prevent Tooth Decay?

Updated at: Aug 24, 2011
How Does Fluoride Prevent Tooth Decay?

Fluoride helps in preventing tooth decay by reducing cavity. Fluoride is thought to bring reverse the process tooth decay which dissolves the calcium of the teeth.

Pratima Sharma
Dental HealthWritten by: Pratima SharmaPublished at: Aug 24, 2011

Woman smileCavity or tooth decay is one of the most frequently occurring tooth problems these days. This is caused by bacteria which are present everywhere - in our mouths, toothbrushes and even teeth. In teeth, they start accumulating in the form of plaque, saliva and remains of food. After settling on the teeth, these organisms feed themselves on the food particles remaining there and acid is produced as a consequence of their feasting. This acid corrodes the tooth enamel and is responsible for causing tooth decay.

Although human tooth enamel can be repaired to a moderate extent by re-mineralizing, it is not that effective in tooth decay as the rate of corrosion caused by the acid surpasses the rate of restoration.

Fluoride, a natural mineral present in the crust of the earth, helps in reducing the cavity. It is also found in certain water supplies and foodstuffs. It is believed that people who drink fluoridated water can prevent tooth decay up to approximately 67% in comparison to those who do not consume naturally fluoridated water. But the question that arises here is how does fluoride prevent tooth decay?


  • When we eat something, the acid produced as a result of bacterial activity in saliva causes demineralisation which dissolves the phosphorous and calcium present on the tooth enamel. Fluoride slows down this process that takes place in the mouth naturally.
  • When the saliva is not much acidic, fluoride adopts the opposite approach of replenishing the phosphorous and calcium levels of the teeth in order to strengthen and harden them. This procedure causes re-mineralsation in teeth. The mineral deposits make the enamel harder and stronger to prevent dissolution in the subsequent demineraliSation stage.
  • Fluoride also helps in developing and strengthening children’s teeth, leading to hardening up of the enamel of the teeth that have already appeared and also the baby or milk teeth that are yet to grow.

Another important question that arises is how will one make sure that he or she is consuming adequate amount of fluoride content to prevent cavity?

If people do not consume fluoridated water, use of fluoride toothpaste will ensure that sufficient fluoride is provided to children as well as adults.


  • Another alternative available is fluoride drops or tablets prescribed by the dentists or pediatricians to children as well as to adults.
  • If the source of water is from public water supply, one can evaluate its fluoride content by calling an officer from the local water supply office.
  • If the source is a private well or private boring, one can get it tested by an independent research laboratory or by any water testing company that offers these kinds of water testing services.

Some kind of action to prevent cavity is very important. If left untreated, the bacterial acid can even make the enamel hollow from inside thus causing a hole into the pulp and dentin layers of the teeth. Healthy and disease free teeth are not only vital for oral health, they are also important to prevent certain other health problems including those of the heart.


Read more articles on Tooth Decay




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