Fluoride helps to prevent new cavities as well as halt small existing cavities from growing larger. It works by strengthening the enamel (the outer layer of the tooth) to prevent the penetration of acids in the mouth. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. In some regions, it is also naturally occurring in the water. Fluoride is added in a very small dose (usually 0.7 parts per million) to many regions’ tap water to help prevent cavities for the general population. Fluoride is added in around 40% of the municipal water for Canada.
The most beneficial source of fluoride is in products such as toothpaste and mouthwash that are used on a daily basis for topical (surface) application. Fluoride in over the counter products is usually between 0.3%-1%. Consistent low dose fluoride is proven to reduce the risk of cavities.
Topical application at your dental office every three to nine months is also helpful to prevent cavities. Fluoride administered in the dental offices ranges from 1.23% to 5% and is recommended based on individual needs.
Xylitol helps to prevent cavities by inhibiting the growth of the type of bacteria that causes cavities. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol. Cavity-causing bacteria cannot use Xylitol to grow, and therefore with the continuous use of Xylitol, the entire bacterial structure of the mouth changes. Xylitol is added into products such as toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, lozenges and even candies. Xylitol works best based on frequency and exposure, so make sure to follow the directions for use on the package.
For people who are particularly cavity-prone, an oral hygiene regimen, including both fluoride and Xylitol on a daily basis is recommended. Be sure to exercise caution when using Xylitol, as it can be lethal for dogs.
If you have any questions about fluoride and xylitol products, or their effects on your teeth, we encourage you to contact us to schedule an appointment.