Fluoride has often been called "Nature's way to prevent tooth decay." Because it was in the early 1900s that we discovered naturally occurring fluoride in water protecting the teeth of Americans in a bunch of communities across the midwest.
It wasn't long then before we started harnessing this natural mineral into dental treatments and products that could deliver the cavity-fighting properties of fluoride in different ways. These different "modalities" of fluoride give us different ways to prevent cavities in the first place - and some can even help treat, reverse, and slow down cavities after they've started.
Over the years, we've developed all kinds of "fluoride modalities" that work in different circumstances.
Our dentists have lots of options in the office. Fluoride treatment, fluoride varnish, prescription fluoride toothpaste to send home with us, silver diamine fluoride, sealants that slow-release fluoride ... to name just a few.
We've also got a variety of over-the-counter options for fluoride toothpaste and rinses. And pediatricians and dentists can prescribe fluoride supplements for kids who don't have fluoridated water.
All this means that we can fine-tune the right combination of fluoride for different people's cavity prevention and treatment needs. Fluoridated water and fluoride toothpaste are the recommendation for everyone's baseline prevention. Then our dentists, hygienists, and doctors can help with additional fluoride treatments and products for those of us who need more.
But with all these options, it can get confusing for those of us who aren't dental professionals, especially if we want to know more about what gets used when, and why. Looking at different fluoride products and how they work can also be a way to learn and explore different kinds of sciences - which is our mission here. We can explore chemistry, oral health, clinical testing, pharmacology, physiology, and lots more with different fluoride modalities. So we don't just look at fluoride in water. We explore fluoride treatment and products, too, in these articles and features:
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