Facts About Fluoride Treatments
An experienced dentist will always tell his or her patients that the most important ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride. Fluoride is an ion that both prevents tooth decay and strengthens the enamel against the acids that are naturally produced in the mouth. Here are some facts about fluoride treatments that will help you keep good oral hygiene.
Facts About Fluoride Treatments | What is Fluoride?
Fluoride, an ion of the element fluorine, is a substance that naturally occurs at low concentrations in fresh water. Because of its usefulness in preserving tooth enamel, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has encouraged states and municipalities to add fluoride to public water supplies. Since fluoridation began in 1945, the number of cases of cavities in the United States has sharply declined.
Facts About Fluoride Treatments | Benefits of Fluoride
After fluoride is ingested or applied to the teeth, it works by becoming absorbed into the enamel, allowing the enamel to re-mineralize in areas where acids from carbohydrates affected the surface of the tooth. Fluoride also strengthens enamel, enabling teeth to better withstand the corrosive effects of acids, and partially prevent the bacteria in plaque from generating acid. When fluoride is ingested, it travels through the bloodstream and enters all teeth, regardless of whether they have yet erupted (grown in). In this way, teeth can already have thick, strong enamel coatings by the time that they erupt, stopping cavities before they can appear.
Facts About Fluoride Treatments | Dietary Fluoride
Though fluoride can be found in low quantities in common food sources such as tea, raisins, crab, and shrimp, its addition to drinking water can supplement the use of fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash in suppressing the development of dental caries. According to the American Dental Association, infants, children, and adolescents under the age of 16 have been shown to benefit from dietary fluoride, which can be most easily consumed via the use of multivitamins.
Facts About Fluoride Treatments | Topical Fluoride Treatments for Children and Adults
In pediatric dentistry, it is often recommended that children and infants receive a topical fluoride treatment, which is the temporary application of a substance containing a high concentration of fluoride to the teeth. In combination with proper brushing, flossing, and a diet low in sugar, this treatment will fortify the enamel and fend off symptoms of tooth decay. This type of treatment may be appropriate for certain adults as well. The process for adults is the same as that for minors: at the end of a teeth cleaning, a highly fluoridated gel is applied to the surface of the teeth, left in place for a few minutes, and is then removed by rinsing. Individuals who wear braces, have chronic dry mouth, and have a genetic predisposition to tooth or root cavities should ask their dentists if fluoride application by a professional would be in their best interest.
If you want more facts about fluoride treatments, please contact our Amherst office today for a free consultation.