Importance of Fluoride For Teeth


Like many scientific findings, the discovery of the importance of fluoride for teeth began through simple observation. A dental school graduate, Dr. Frederick McKay, moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1901 and opened a dental practice. He was shocked that many people native to the area had brown, splotchy, permanent stains on their teeth. Unable to find an explanation for this condition through research, he began to investigate the phenomenon on his own.

In 1909, a preeminent dental researcher, Dr. G. V. Black, traveled to Colorado Springs to assist McKay with his investigation. They worked together for six years (until Black’s death in 1915) and made two important discoveries. First, they learned that the condition resulted from developmental imperfections in children’s teeth. Second, teeth affected by the condition were also (surprisingly) resistant to decay. Some locals suggested that the condition was caused by a unique ingredient in the town’s water supply, an idea that intrigued McKay, but they had no evidence for this belief.

Around this time, McKay visited the town of Oakley, Idaho, where parents had suddenly begun noticing brown stains on their children’s teeth. This happened, the parents claimed, after a communal water pipeline to a warm spring was developed several miles away from Oakley. Although he still couldn’t prove a connection between water supply and dental health, McKay advised the families to forgo using this new water supply. They did, and within a few years, young children in Oakley were no longer developing mottled teeth.

Although McKay now felt confident that the water supply was to blame, he did not know what was unique about the water in these areas. He traveled to another affected area, Bauxite, Arkansas, with an employee of the U.S. Public Health Service, but their investigation of the water supply didn’t provide an answer. Luckily, however, their research report reached H.V. Churchill, the chief chemist of the Aluminum Company of America, which owned the town of Bauxite. Churchill discovered high levels of fluoride in the water using photo-spectrographic analysis. Finally, Dr. McKay had his answer!

This discovery led to many years of further experimentation and study, in which researchers, scientists, dentists, and the general public learned more about the importance of fluoride for teeth.


Although high levels of fluoride can cause fluorosis (the modern name for the condition that Dr. McKay noticed in Colorado Springs over a century ago), smaller amounts can offer great benefits without adverse effects. Don’t underestimate the following benefits of fluoride:

  • Prevention of Tooth Decay. The main benefit of fluoride is that it prevents tooth decay. It strengthens teeth, making them more resistant to acid attacks, which cause cavities. This is especially important for children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years, whose teeth are still forming. However, it can also have a big impact on adult teeth.
  • Reversal of Dental Caries. Fluoride can repair dental caries (i.e., tooth decay) in the early stages as well, before they are even visible. It remineralizes areas in which acid attacks have already begun breaking down the tooth enamel.
  • Accessible and Natural. Fluoride, which comes from the element fluorine, occurs naturally in all water sources. It is easy to find and easy to use. The fluoride that exists naturally in water is rarely enough to provide the optimal level of dental protection, however, which is why we add fluoride to our community water supplies.

MODERN FLUORIDE APPLICATIONSAdding traces of fluoride to community water supplies (i.e., fluoridation) is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay. In fact, studies prove that it can reduce tooth decay by 25% or more, even if the drinkers are receiving fluoride from other sources (like toothpaste). To learn more about the level of fluoride in your water, contact your local, county, or state health department. Fluoridation is a systemic application of fluoride, which means it is ingested by the body and incorporated into the structure of the teeth. Other forms of systemic fluoride include tablets, drops, and lozenges.

Dentists also recommend topical applications of fluoride, which become a part of the saliva, protect teeth from the outside, and make teeth even more resistant to decay. For example, always purchase toothpaste that contains fluoride (it should have an ADA Seal of Acceptance), and look for mouthwashes that contain fluoride as well. In addition, your dentist may apply professional fluoride therapy at your dental cleanings and exams in the form of a gel, foam, or rinse.

TOO LITTLE AND TOO MUCH FLUORIDEChildren between the ages of 6 months and 16 years old should take fluoride supplements if they are not drinking fluoridated water. Supplements are available in the form of liquids or tablets, which your dentist can prescribe. And even if your water is fluoridated, your child may need extra fluoride if he or she has a higher risk of tooth decay.

As we mentioned above, fluoride can cause fluorosis if you receive too much of it, but this is very unusual in most areas. If you are receiving too much fluoride, your dentist will notice the symptoms at your check-up and provide personalized advice. In addition, be sure to follow your dentist’s instructions regarding fluoride supplement amounts to prevent an overdose.

Although you are likely already getting plenty of fluoride through your water supply, toothpaste, and dental appointments, talk to your dentist if you have any questions or concerns. Contact your local health department to learn about the fluoride in your community’s water, and be sure to purchase toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain additional fluoride. Finally, be sure to teach your children the importance of fluoride for teeth, so that they will understand why brushing your teeth properly and visiting a dentist regularly is so crucial.

Covid Tips

Hello dental friends! We hope this finds you in good health. Our community has been turned upside down by COVID-19 and we have greatly missed seeing everyone. By taking all the proper precautions and going above and beyond with our infection control, we are opening on a limited capacity and ready to welcome you back. However, for those who aren’t quite ready to venture out we understand and respect that. We still want to assist you the best we can. Let us help you with a few dental hygiene tips to keep your oral health on track until we can visit again!

Power Up That Toothbrush
If you don’t have a power toothbrush, now is an excellent time to make that investment! One minute of brushing with an electric toothbrush, provide 31,000 brushstrokes compared to 300 with a manual toothbrush. This allows for effortless removal of plaque (the sticky film that coats teeth and contains bacteria), resulting in reduction of bleeding and sore gums. Brands of electric toothbrushes that we recommend are Philip’s Sonicare, Oral-B and the Waterpik SonicFusion which can all be found at Walmart, CVS and Amazon.

Flossing your teeth is crucial for maintaining a healthy mouth. Brushing alone only fights half the bacteria battle. When brushing, we clean the tooth surface that we can see. Floss cleans the in-between areas that the toothbrush can’t. Bacteria and plaque love to grow in dark and damp areas like in-between teeth and under gums. Flossing correctly disrupts the growing of that bacteria and creates a clean and healthy surface. When flossing your teeth, it is important to go all the way under your gums in a “C” shape to ensure you get the plaque at it’s source. We love good ol’ fashioned string floss but we also encourage floss picks or a waterpik flosser, whatever will get you to participate. Your teeth and gums will be glad you do!

Attack that Acid
During this time, for many, extra time on our hands equals more snacking/drinking. Be aware that many of these snacks/drinks, especially sodas and sports drinks, are high in acid and low in pH, resulting in week tooth enamel, the outer covering of your teeth. The longer you can keep a higher pH in your mouth the better! When it comes to the health of your enamel, it is most important to think about exposure time and how long your teeth are exposed to that acidic environment. For example, if you were to have a soda, it is best to sit and drink (use a straw at all times, if possible) it in one sitting rather than sipping it for several hours. Timing is important here folks, so don’t let those snacks/drinks sit on your teeth for long!

Don’t Forget The Fluoride
When we eat things like candy, crackers and noodles cavity causing bacteria is created. Fluoride to the rescue!! Fluoride is extremely important to protect tooth enamel. When fluoride mixes with saliva a shield of protection is created and coats your teeth, protecting them from this bacteria. Fluoride can be found in toothpaste, mouth rinses and tap water. Just make sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day with toothpaste that has the ADA Seal, ensuring that it has been tested and shown to contain the right amount of fluoride to protect your teeth.

It is known that the COVID-19 virus has been found in saliva and a peroxide based mouthrinse can help oxidize the virus thus killing it. We recommend rinsing 1 time a day with either Colgate Proxyl, Listerine Whitening Mouthrinse or mixing equal parts water with 2% over the counter peroxide for 20 seconds. Every little bit helps when being proactive and staying healthy during this pandemic.

We hope these little reminders help keep your teeth and gums healthy until we see you again. Should you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate and call us a (972) 262-5181.

Gum disease and Alzheimer’s

A recent study published in the journal, Science Advances, uncovered a potential link between a bacteria associated with periodontal (gum) disease and Alzheimer’s.   These bacteria can travel from mouth to the brain destroying brain neurons. High levels of this bacteria were detected in brain tissue samples of those with Alzheimer’s disease. A specific component of this bacteria is directly related to the disease process of this devastating disease. Obviously, there is much more research to be done, however, in the meantime, it is imperative that we manage periodontal disease. Early detection, preventative measures, and referral to a periodontist will be a few steps we will take here.

With spring and summer rapidly approaching, we will be spending more time in the sun.   It is crucial we protect our lips. This tissue is very thin and can burn easily. Multiple burns can predispose you to skin cancer. You will need to use a lip balm or Chapstick with protection from the UVB and UVA rays (broad spectrum). Apply often while you are outside. Aquaphor, Banana Boat, and O’Keefe’s are good brands.

Chew xylitol gum to maintain your oral health

Chew xylitol gum to maintain your oral health!

Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is derived from plants, vegetables, and some fruits.

Chewing gum that contains xylitol is beneficial especially after meals!  Xylitol will neutralize the pH in the oral cavity and reduce the time your teeth are exposed to an acidic environment that is proven to weaken enamel.

For those who have xerostomia or “dry mouth”, chewing gum with xylitol will help stimulate salivary flow to keep enamel strong and relieve the discomfort associated with dry mouth.

Xylitol will also reduce the cavity causing bacteria by interfering with the bacteria’s metabolism.

In addition, the act of chewing gum will help reduce plaque build-up.

Xylitol should be the first ingredient, and only sweetener ingredient listed on the back of the product to receive the full product to receive the full therapeutic benefits!