When it comes to protecting your teeth, practicing good oral hygiene is the best deterrent against developing tooth decay and, in turn, keeping tooth enamel strong. There are other beneficial steps you can take as well, including undergoing fluoride treatments during your regularly scheduled dental visits.
While you may associate fluoride treatments with children, today, they can be just as beneficial for adults. Everyone is at some risk for developing tooth decay, and fluoride can help combat the resulting effects. With it, you can better maintain your dental health and keep a confident smile to share at any age.
What Exactly is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is naturally occurring and found in various water sources and specific foods. It is also an essential component of your teeth, helping to strengthen enamel and protect it from cavities and decay.
Dental care products, such as certain mouthwashes and toothpastes, contain a small amount of added fluoride, which is a help to some patients. For those at a higher risk for developing tooth decay, however, a dentist can provide a safe fluoride treatment right in their office.
What Does a Fluoride Treatment Involve?
Fluoride treatments are administered by a dental professional and involve the application of a professional-strength, tropical fluoride. This application usually occurs shortly after a thorough dental cleaning and may be in the form of a liquid, foam, or gel.
Using a small brush, your dentist will apply the clear liquid, also called a varnish, to your teeth and any receding gums where the roots show. With fluoride foam, your dental team places it in a tray similar to a mouthguard and then inserts the tray into your mouth for 3 to 5 minutes. Gel fluorides can be applied by brushing or by inserting into a tray also.
If you are at higher risk for tooth decay, your dentist may also prescribe at-home fluoride supplements in the form of mouth rinses or toothpastes.
Are Fluoride Treatments Worth It?
Fluoride treatments are worth receiving because, in addition to strengthening your teeth and protecting them from the development of decay in the future, they can also stop the progression of any that is already forming. With this halt, you can avoid the need for fillings or other restorative dental work.
As you eat and drink daily, minerals are added and removed from tooth enamel in processes called mineralization and demineralization. The removal, or demineralization, occurs as a result of acids (from plaque) that attach to the enamel and break it down.
Adding fluoride leads to the rebuilding of weakened surfaces of your teeth through what’s known as remineralization. Once the fluoride is applied, the teeth absorb it, restoring the lost minerals that make and keep your teeth the hardest and strongest they can be. This is the process that can help protect your teeth from further damage.
For children, fluoride treatments are beneficial during the early years as new teeth begin to develop and erupt inside their mouths. They provide protection while the child learns how to go about practicing good oral hygiene.
As for adults, teeth weaken with age, and high levels of mouth bacteria become problematic, even when brushing and flossing regularly. Due to this, fluoride is a beneficial addition to the dental health routine.
Other risk factors that benefit from fluoride treatments include the following.
- Dry Mouth
If you experience dry mouth, the level of natural saliva you produce is drastically reduced. Dry mouth may result from a variety of factors, including allergy and sinus issues, diabetes, an autoimmune disorder, or the taking of certain medications. Since saliva is needed to help in the natural mineralization process, the chances of teeth remaining strong throughout your life decreases.
- Receding Gums and Gum Disease
You may be at higher risk for developing tooth decay if you experience gum recession, exposing more of the roots of your teeth. Early gum disease, called Gingivitis, can progress to the more serious Periodontitis, and both of these can benefit from additional fluoride.
- History of Previous Dental Work
Patients with a history of needing frequent crowns, fillings, or other dental appliances will also benefit from receiving fluoride treatments. Decay can form around and under dental work, making it difficult to reach when brushing and flossing, and these treatments can help.
- Consumption of High Acidic Food and Beverages
Fluoride treatments are recommended for those who regularly consume high acidic food and beverages, such as coffee. These acids wear away at the tooth’s enamel, eventually weakening the structure and requiring dental solutions.
Find out More About the Benefits of Fluoride Treatments by Contacting Bateson Dentistry Today
While fluoride occurs naturally, not everyone receives enough to keep teeth strong and resistant to decay over time. Here at Bateson Dentistry, we work with each individual patient to determine if fluoride treatments will be beneficial to their dental health. Call today or visit our website to schedule a consultation or cleaning and find out if these treatments are right for you.