|MadSci Network: Microbiology|
Good question Francisco! Fluoride is a naturally occuring mineral found in almost all food and water supplies. The fluoride ion comes from the element Fluorine, which is never encountered in it's free state. Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities or caries in several ways. It makes the tooth structure stronger so that teeth can resist acid attacks (much of what we eat are acidic to some degree, and also acid results from the plaque bacteria break down many of the sugars and carbohydrates in our diets). Fluoride also remineralizes teeth or repairs them also preventing caries.
Fluoride is available in most community water supplies. Or if you live in a rural area and do not have "city water" there are fluoride rinses available to help protect your teeth.
If you'd like more information this is available online from the American Dental Association - Flouridation and Flourides.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Microbiology.