Dental caries is a process that leads to the destruction of the tooth structure. Statistics about dental caries in Poland are alarming. That is why preventive measures are so important. Fluoride compounds are commonly used in dental prophylaxis. They support the remineralization, inhibit the demineralization of the enamel and reduce the cariogenic effect of bacteria on the teeth. Fluoride in lower concentration enables the constant reposition of mineral compounds which are lost during acids attacks on the enamel and the formation of fluorapatites which are less susceptible to acids. Higher concentration of fluoride leads to calcium fluoride formation which is a reservoir of that element. It is now believed that the most important is the topical (exogenous) action of fluoride. The basic method of caries prevention is brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. It should be emphasized that special attention ought to be paid to the thorough removal of the dental plaque during brushing the teeth. The other methods of topical fluoridation are for example fluoride varnishes or mouthrinses containing fluoride. Fluoride mouthrinses in most cases can be used by patient at home. Whereas fluoride varnishes should be applied by a professional at a dental clinic. There are also glass-ionomer restorations available which release fluoride ions. According to current knowledge, dental prophylaxis should be adjusted to each patient individually. Based on the literature reviewed, it can be concluded that fluoride compounds play the important role in dental caries prophylaxis and, if only used deliberately, can bring great benefits. However, it should be underlined that in excess – as everything – may be not good for health.
Keywords: dental caries; dental caries prophylaxis; fluoride; fluoridation.