Adults can benefit from fluoride treatments at any age. Scheduling an appointment for a fluoride treatment will depend on your oral health and how much at risk you are for developing cavities. If you have several factors that leave you at risk for developing tooth decay, your dentist may recommend you use topical fluoride treatments to help strengthen your tooth enamel and lower your risk of tooth decay. To assess your smile, use a dentist near me search to find your nearest Castle Dental location. From there, you can determine whether or not a fluoride treatment is right for you.
Factors that can leave a patient predisposed to needing a fluoride treatment include having a dry mouth condition, gum disease, frequent cavities, or having dental crowns or braces. Without saliva helping remove food particles, dry mouth conditions can leave your mouth further susceptible to developing plaque which contributes to tooth decay. Gum disease is often caused by poor oral hygiene, but can also contribute to tooth decay as well as infected gums. If you have frequent cavities, your dentist may want to recommend fluoride as an option to help prevent more from developing in the future. Lastly, having dental work such as dental crowns or braces can leave the part of your tooth that meets the crown or bracket susceptible to trapping bacteria. Using fluoride can help strengthen these hard to reach areas.
Fluoride Treatment Risks
Fluoride is a great option for strengthening the enamel on your teeth, but you should always be aware of using it as directed. High doses of fluoride can be toxic, depending on the weight of the individual using fluoride treatment. For this reason, fluoride in children needs to be monitored to avoid levels from becoming too high.
Fluorosis is a defective side effect from the over-consumption of fluoride. Patients consuming too much fluoride will start to notice white spots or streaks on the enamel of teeth. They may not be all that noticeable, but are important to watch out for, especially among children. This generally happens when there are multiple sources of fluoride that patients are not aware of, well water being one example. Some other sources of fluoride include: grape products, dried fruit, dried beans, cocoa powder, and walnuts. Tea plants absorb fluoride from the soil and as result, tea leaves-particularly old tea leaves-contain high levels of fluoride.
What if we told you there was some extra protection you could find for your teeth at your next dentist appointment? At Castle Dental, we’ve been offering fluoride treatments at any age to help patients protect their teeth from cavity-causing bacteria. Without proper oral hygiene at home, coupled with regular visits to your dentist for oral exams and teeth cleanings, your teeth become more and more susceptible to developing cavities and other oral infections. If you haven’t considered a fluoride a treatment before, use our “dentist near me” search tool to find the closest Castle Dental location to you. Whether it’s a separate treatment, or one you add on after your teeth cleaning, it’s one of the best preventative measures you can take to strengthening your teeth and the quality of your smile.
Fluoride Treatment Benefits
You may have heard your dentist mention a fluoride treatment before, but what does it do to protect your teeth? Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in both food and water that has properties to help remineralize the enamel on your teeth. This is important because the enamel on your teeth face an onslaught of acid that wear away at the strength of your tooth. From the foods you eat, to the acid produced from plaque, there are all kinds of ways in which your teeth face demineralization. Fluoride works to help remineralize your tooth, making your enamel stronger, thus more resistant to tooth decay.
Tooth decay works as bacteria consume sugars on your teeth and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid will start to wear away at your tooth’s enamel over time, causing small holes to form. These small holes are called cavities, and will need to be repaired with a filling by your dentist. Fluoride works by making your enamel more resistant to acid, and can even reverse early signs of decay. This is often why dentists will recommend fluoride treatments for children under 6 years old. During this time, children are still learning proper oral hygiene methods and may be lacking in a strict regimen to keep their teeth healthy. Using a fluoride treatment, your child’s tooth enamel can be strengthened to act as an extra form of protection from cavities.
Types of Fluoride
Topical Fluoride Treatment
Topical fluoride treatments are applied directly to the surface of your tooth or teeth. You can generally think of these in the forms of toothpastes, mouth rinses, or gels applied at home or by a dentist. You can seek fluoride treatments with over-the-counter mouthwashes, which may be recommended by a dentist if you are at particular risk for developing cavities. Otherwise, your dentist will use a professional fluoride treatment in-office for more effective measures.
At your appointment, your dentist will apply fluoride treatment either in the form of a foam or gel that’s put inside of a disposable tray. The dentist will keep the tray in your mouth over a period of time, ranging a few minutes. In some cases, they’ll apply a varnish directly to the tooth rather than a gel or foam. The formulas used at your dentist’s office are much stronger than items you’d find at your pharmacy for an at-home treatment. Patients can find prescription strength fluoride, but will need to be prescribed so by a professional dentist. Talk to your dentist to see if you’d be a good candidate for fluoride treatment during your next appointment.
Systemic Fluoride Treatment
Rather than having fluoride applied directly to your teeth, patients can opt for a systemic fluoride treatment. Systemic refers to having the fluoride strengthen your tooth’s enamel from within the body via ingestion. This is can help children in particular, as the fluoride is within the bloodstream and helps teeth strengthen as they’re developing. Fluoride is generally ingested in several ways including fluoridated water and drinks, prescription fluoride supplements, and small amount of fluoride in food. Fluoride is often added in public drinking water as a way to help children strengthen the enamel on their teeth by consuming small amounts of tap water.
Topical Fluoride Treatment Process
- Depending on the type of fluoride treatment method used, your dentist will work on applying the solution. Your teeth will be dried to prevent any dilution of the fluoride solution. If the fluoride is within the form of a gel or foam, they will typically use a mouth tray to allow your teeth to sit in the formula. If the fluoride is in the form of varnish, the solution will be painted onto the tooth enamel with a brush or cotton swab. Your dentist will ask that you do not swallow the treatment while it sits on your teeth. This can take anywhere from one to four minutes.
- After the treatment, your dentist will ask that you refrain from consuming anything, including water, for at least 30 minutes. This time frame will allow your teeth to properly absorb the fluoride, remineralizing as much of the tooth enamel as possible.
- You may need follow-up treatment, depending on your dentist’s discretion. This can vary from three, six, or 12 months. Your dentist might also recommend a few ways you can use fluoride at home with your routine oral care plan.
Fluoride Treatment in Children
Talk to your dentist about how a fluoride treatment can help your child. It’s always important to incorporate good oral hygiene habits young, as your child is developing their permanent teeth. Using fluoride treatment at your child’s dentist appointment can help encourage a strong, healthy enamel. Systemic fluoride treatment options are also good for developing strong tooth enamel as permanent teeth are developing. If you and your dentist do decide to use fluoride supplements as a treatment option, be sure they are consumed in small amounts. You’ll want to discuss proper dosage to ensure their isn’t an over-consumption of fluoride.
Other ways to boost fluoride remineralization on teeth include:
- Well water. As mentioned above, if you and your family are consuming well water as a source of water, it’s a good idea to have your water tested. The fluoride levels can indicate if you are consuming too much fluoride, especially if you are already supplementing your fluoride intake by other means.
- Toothpaste. All toothpaste should contain some amount of fluoride to help remineralize your teeth on a daily basis. Read the labels to see how much fluoride is in the particular toothpaste you are using. Talk with your dentist about which toothpaste options are right for you.
- Supplemental fluoride. Some patients are prescribed supplemental fluoride via tablet intake. It’s important to keep these supplements away from small children, particularly under the age of two as they can be too toxic.
- Fluoride mouthwash. Your dentist may recommend using a mouthwash rinse with fluoride after you brush your teeth. This option can help minimize your chances of developing cavities at home.
Using fluoride is a bit of a balancing act. Not enough fluoride, and your teeth are more susceptible to the effects of tooth decay. With too much fluoride and you run the risk of toxicity. However, most patients shouldn’t be all too concerned with too much fluoride intake, as it would require a high combination of fluoride intake from various sources. If you are ever questioning how much fluoride you should be using to maintain the health of your teeth, ask your dentist what the right amount is.