Made up of countless closely packed mineral rods, tooth enamel is very hard. When you eat, acid forms on the outside of the tooth and seeps into the enamel’s rods. This demineralization process can create a weak spot in the tooth’s surface. If left unchecked, the enamel can decay and a cavity can form.
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the breakdown of enamel and speeding up the natural remineralization process. These microscopic views of a tooth’s chewing surface illustrate how fluoride works:
Common sources of fluoride include fluoridated water, toothpastes, and mouth rinses. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, your dentist may recommend that you take fluoride supplements in the form of high-concentration fluoride gels, mouth rinses, drops or tablets.