Fluoride is a powerful mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay and can even reverse it in its early stages. It does this by making the enamel more resistant to acids that attack the teeth, as well as by accelerating the accumulation of healthy minerals in the enamel. Studies have shown that fluoride can stop tooth decay that has already begun in some cases. Fluoride is found in many dental products, and is also added to public water supplies to help protect teeth from cavities.
Drinking fluoridated water can reduce cavities by up to 25% in both children and adults, and has been shown to save money for families and the US health system. Fluoride supplements can also be taken in small doses every day, especially if there isn't enough fluoride in the regular water supply or if bottled water is used. However, it is important to be aware of dental fluorosis, which can occur when too much fluoride is consumed while teeth are still forming under the gums. Children are more likely to swallow toothpaste, which contains significantly more fluoride than fluoridated water, so it is important to monitor their intake.