What is a fluoride treatment and why do our Edmonton dentists recommend fluoride to our patients? Is there anyone who should not have fluoride? We answer these questions and more in today's post.
What is a fluoride treatment?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps build strong teeth and prevents cavities. It supports healthy tooth enamel (the outer protective layer of each tooth) and protects against bacteria that build up on teeth and gums.
Fluoride may be especially helpful if you have an increased risk of developing dental decay or cavities. When bacteria accumulate on teeth, a sticky layer of plaque develops and produces acid, which erodes teeth and gum tissue.
If the layer of enamel erodes, the inner pulp of the tooth can become infected with bacteria, which often results in the need for a root canal.
What types of fluoride treatment are there?
Your body absorbs fluoride in two ways: topically and systemically.
Topical fluoride can be applied with toothpaste, mouth rinses and treatments.
Systemic fluorides are swallowed. Fluoridated water (which is most tap water) falls under this category, as well as dietary fluoride supplements.
What happens during a fluoride treatment?
A typical professional fluoride treatment only takes a few minutes. Your dentist may use a gel, foam or varnish fluoride that's applied with a swab or brush. It may also be placed in a tray that will stay in your mouth for a few minutes during your regular dental hygiene checkup.
Your dentist will recommend that you avoid eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes after the treatment is applied. This will allow time for your teeth to absorb the fluoride and help repair microscopic areas of decay.
Ask your dentist how often they recommend you have fluoride treatments - typically for those who need them, it's every 6 to 12 months. If you face an increased risk of developing tooth decay, your dentist may recommend other preventive options such as prescription or over-the-counter fluoride mouth gels or rinses, or an antibacterial mouth rinse.
Using systemic and topical fluorides together is typically an effective way to reduce the risk of dental cavities and protect tooth health.
Flouride Treatments for Children
While children under two years old should still use a fluoride-free toothpaste, kids can typically begin having fluoride treatments at your dentist's as soon as their first tooth appears. Always follow your dentist's recommendation when it comes to fluoride use for children, particularly for those under 6 years old.
If your little one ingests too much fluoride as a young child before their adult teeth have erupted, this can cause dental fluorosis.
That said, the fluoride varnish your dentist will apply to your child's teeth is typically safe for children and helps prevent tooth decay. these treatments use only a tiny amount of fluoride, and hardly any fluoride usually gets swallowed.
Why do dentists recommend fluoride treatments?
Calcium and phosphate are two minerals naturally present in saliva. These help to repair weakened tooth enamel and make your teeth more resistant to future decay. Your dentist can apply fluoride treatments to replenish these minerals.
Fluoride treatments can be particularly helpful for patients who have:
- Higher risk for tooth decay or erosion
- Weak enamel
- Poor oral health
Are there reasons to avoid fluoride treatments?
Dentists typically recommend fluoride treatments for children, teens and adults depending on their needs and the treatment is usually considered safe.
However, patients who have allergic reactions to fluoride (an extremely rare occurrence) should avoid these treatments.
Similar to any medication, too much fluoride (such as accidentally overdosing on fluoride supplement pills or being prescribed a dose that's too high) can cause negative complications such as staining and pitting. While fluoride poisoning is rare today, chronic overexposure can be harmful to small children's developing bones and teeth.
While some people believe that fluoride and fluoridated water pose potential for harm, this is an exaggeration. The most common risks people experience after fluoride treatment are tooth discoloration. But, similar to allergic reactions, this is extremely rare and does not normally occur.
Keep in mind that your dental team can address any questions or concerns you may have about fluoride treatment. Ask your dentist about the appropriate amount of fluoride for you and your family and always keep fluoride supplements out of children's reach.
Fluoride Treatment at Azarko Dental Group
Fluoride treatments can help strengthen and repair weak tooth enamel, leaving your teeth less vulnerable to bacteria and cavities during your lifetime. It can also slow or reverse the development of cavities by harming bacteria that cause cavities.
Your dentist at Azarko Dental Group may recommend fluoride treatment as part of your preventive dental health checkup. We are always here to address any questions or concerns you may have about this or any other treatment or recommendation.