There is a constant struggle each morning to get up, take a shower, and drag ourselves out of the house to start a new day at work.
Mornings tend to be tiresome. As a result, we turn to our most reliable companion to wake us up from our trance: coffee. With this beverage, we cross our fingers that it will keep us awake ’til the clock strikes to signal the end of the day.
Yet, sipping that cup of coffee may be contributing to the demineralization of our teeth.
Coffee contains acid which weakens the enamel and makes it vulnerable to staining.
The sugar in coffee adds to the adverse effect of the drink to the teeth. Plaque on the teeth then use that sugar to produce acids that attack the enamel.
Coffee, especially those bought in coffee shops, contains high levels of sugar up to 25 teaspoons per beverage, according to charity group, Action on Sugar, in its 2016 analysis of 131 hot flavored drinks of high street cafes.
Because of demineralization, minerals helpful to the teeth such as fluoride must be redeposited to the teeth. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring compound that is present in food and water. The teeth need fluoride for the remineralization of the enamel layer. Thus, this can make the teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque and sugars in the mouth.
Fluoride also reverses early tooth decay in children under six-years-old by being incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. Through this incorporation, demineralizing the teeth becomes more difficult for acids.
Fluoride also speeds up the remineralization process and disrupts the production of acid in the erupted teeth of children as well as adults.
But as we age, we tend to disregard the relevant contribution of fluoride to our oral health. After all, fluoride treatments cease at 14 years of age when insurance companies do not shoulder the cost of such topical treatments.
Although fluoride intake is most crucial for children between six-months-old and 16-years-old, research has shown that fluoride is beneficial to people of all ages.
Fluoride protects the teeth systemically and topically.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), systemic fluorides or those ingested into the body provide longer-lasting protection than those topically applied.
Ingested fluoride is also present in saliva, providing a reservoir of fluoride. Sources of systemic fluoride include fluoridated water, fluoride supplements, and fluoride found in foods and beverages.
Fluoride supplements are available in the form of tablets, drops, or lozenges. However, they require prescription by a dentist or family doctor.
In food, the level of fluoride averages from 0.01 to 0.1 ppm. This is low compared to artificially fluoridated water and processed drinks which may contain levels between 0.5 to 1.2 ppm.
On the other, topical fluoride refers to the direct application of fluoride on the teeth to make them more resistant to decay. Sources of topical fluoride include toothpaste; mouth rinses; and professional fluoride gels, foams, and varnishes.
It is important to note that professionally-applied fluoride contains higher levels of fluoride than fluoridated water or with those in toothpaste and mouth rinses.
Because high doses of fluoride can be hazardous, use of the compound requires supervision. This is especially important among children who tend to swallow instead of spit toothpaste.
Nevertheless, everyone of all ages should ask a dentist regarding the use of fluoride products for their pearly whites. After all, one’s ideal fluoride intake depends greatly on their current oral standing. Only a dental professional will know whether or not your teeth require more or less fluoride for optimal oral health.