Caries Prevention

Among the reasons for the significant reduction in dental caries in children over the past several decades has been the increased availability of fluoride. When administered in the appropriate dosage, fluoride is a highly safe and effective method for the prevention and control of caries. Although the precise mechanisms by which fluorides act is not fully understood, three mechanisms are generally accepted:

  1. increasing the resistance of tooth structure to demineralization;
  2. enhancing the process of remineralization; and
  3. reducing the cariogenic potential of dental plaque.

The effects of fluoride are classified as either systemic or topical. Sources of systemic fluoride include drinking water from home and school, beverages such as soda, juice, and infant formula, prepared food, professionally prescribed fluoride products and ingestion of toothpaste. The sources of topical effects are available from previously mentioned systemic sources contacting the teeth during ingestion, toothpastes containing fluoride and professionally applied or self applied concentrated forms of fluoride.