A member of the American Dental Association, Robert Madden, DDS, treats patients at Southwest Family Dentistry in the Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado. In addition to his dental degree, he holds an MBA from the University of Colorado. With a strong focus on preventive dentistry, Dr. Robert Madden recommends the use of fluoride to keep cavities at bay. The enamel, which is the outer layer of the teeth, contains minerals that keep it strong and protect the underlying tooth layers. Acids are formed when starches and sugars mix with oral bacteria, and they create weak spots in the enamel in a process called demineralization. This is what leads to tooth decay. However, when the teeth are frequently exposed to fluoride and other minerals through food and water, the enamel is quickly remineralized before permanent damage occurs. Fluoride is administered both topically and orally.
Children’s first exposure to the mineral is usually through fluoridated drinking water, which is available to nearly 75 percent of U.S. citizens. This systemic fluoride helps strengthen teeth before they even erupt. Fluoridated drinking water also has a topical effect on both children and adults as saliva contains the mineral and continually bathes the teeth in it. Dentists recommend using fluoridated toothpaste to obtain a daily topical dose of the protective mineral, and they also recommend a stronger, more concentrated dose via professional fluoride treatments. These treatments are administered every six months after a professional teeth cleaning and often come in the form of a gel or varnish applied to the teeth.