CAVITY PROTECTION FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
HOW DOES A CAVITY FORM?3
Plaque is a bacterial film on the surface of teeth formed from leftover food particles. Some organisms within the plaque, called acidogenic bacteria, produce acids as part of their metabolism.
These acids move through the plaque into the absorbent subsurface enamel. This process produces hydrogen ions which can dissolve the mineral, turning calcium and phosphate into a solution which is then lost from the tooth. This attack on the tooth enamel or dentin is known as demineralisation and can lead to cavity formation.
HOW IS ACID PRODUCED BY BACTERIAL PLAQUE?3
Fermentable carbohydrates, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose and cooked starch, can be metabolised by acidogenic bacteria to form organic acids as a by-product.
The two most important groups of bacteria that produce lactic acid are the mutans streptococci and the lactobacilli.
Each group contains several species, each of which is cariogenic – meaning they cause caries or tooth decay. Mutans streptococci and the lactobacilli, either separately or together, are the primary cause of dental cavities.
The process of demineralisation continues each time a carbohydrate that can be digested by bacteria is eaten.
WHAT IS FLUORIDE?
Fluoride is a mineral found naturally across the globe. Traces of the mineral is present in all food and water, which means humans ingest fluoride on a daily basis4.
Since fluoride, along with education, is the first line of defence against the onset of cavities5 it is added to drinking water by many communities through water fluoridation4. In fact, water fluoridation schemes have been active for over 50 years6.
ORAL AND DENTAL DELIVERY OF FLUORIDE
Much needed fluoride can be found in the following sources7:
HOW DOES FLUORIDE COMBAT CAVITIES?5
Fluoride assists in the fight against cavities in these three ways:
1. INHIBITS BACTERIAL
When the pH value in plaque is lowered by acids produced by bacteria, fluoride in the plaque fluid combines with hydrogenions to form hydrogen fluoride (HF). HF is quickly absorbed into the cell, and once inside it breaks apart again, increasing the acidity of the cell and releasing fluoride-ions that get in the way of enzyme activity in bacteria.
2. INHIBITS DEMINERALISATION
Fluoride can be found at low levels among the enamel or dentin crystals. This fluoride sticks to these crystal surfaces and can make a clear impact in stopping the breakdown of tooth mineral because of acidity. Fluoride that acts in this way can be found in sources such as drinking water and fluoride products.
3. ENHANCES REMINERALISATION
Saliva that comes into contact with plaque neutralises its acid, which halts and reverses demineralisation. Saliva has a high concentration of calcium and phosphate which supplement teeth minerals and allow new surface growth. Fluoride boosts this remineralisation process by attracting additional calcium and phosphate ions.
Fluoride is needed regularly throughout life to protect teeth against the formation of cavities.