Some people underestimate how poor oral health can affect their well-being. For example, untreated cavities and decay has been associated with cardiovascular problems.
However, the Pennsylvania Dental Association recently highlighted how fluoride is a simple and cost-effective way to improve oral health.
"In developing teeth, the fluoride becomes part of the enamel and actually causes it to become denser and stronger so it is more resistant to the acids that are produced by the bacteria that cause decay," said Linda Himmelberger, a general dentist and former president of the PDA.
The group referred to fluoride as "nature's cavity fighter," and explained that the mineral can be found naturally in water sources like lakes, rivers and oceans. While many of the country's public water supplies are fluoridated to an optimal level that is aimed to promote better dental health, some areas do not have access to them.
People who live in regions without fluoridated water supplies may consider buying oral care products that have added amounts of the mineral in order to ward off tooth decay.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that 42 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 11 have dental caries in their permanent teeth.
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