We hear a lot about fluoride – it’s likely in your toothpaste and maybe even in your drinking water. What we don’t often hear, however, is what this useful element actually does for our teeth. To start with, our teeth are covered in a mineral called enamel. Enamel has a crystalline structure to it called hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite has a certain strength to it that helps to protect our teeth and keep them healthy. When acids from the foods we eat attack hydroxyapatite, it can break it down and begin the decay process.
This is where fluoride comes in. When fluoride interacts with a tooth there is a change in the crystal. A new crystal, called fluorapatite, is formed. Fluorapatite is actually stronger than hydroxyapatite! This means the tooth, with its new crystalline structure, is more resistant to acid attack and therefore, decay. With use of fluoride, there is approximately a 50% reduction in decay.
I know there might be some chemistry folks out there who are interested in how this happens – in fact, the OH (Hydroxyl ion) in hydroxyapatite is replaced with a Fl (Fluoride ion) to make fluorapatite, which has a higher bond strength.
If you have any questions about keeping your teeth healthy give us a visit at Bay Dental located on West Georgia downtown Vancouver. Feel free to give us a call at 604-569-0099 to book an appointment.