What are Fluoride Treatments and How Do They Work?
Most forms of oral discomfort we know of—tooth decay, tooth pain, gingivitis—are caused by pesky little acid-producing bacteria that collect and grow in a slimy film around your teeth called plaque, which eventually hardens into your gum line and forms tartar. While most of the plaque can be removed through a daily and proper routine of flossing, brushing, and rinsing, tartar, once it forms, can only be removed by a dental professional. The same goes for taking care of painful cavities and worsening infections of the teeth and gums.
Now, as much as we all tend to avoid the dentist, our fears are—especially in the modern era—unfounded. There are simple, pain-free dental procedures that make your teeth stronger and more protected so you can maintain your oral health and prevent plaque and tartar buildup in the future.
Let’s talk about fluoride and how treatments that use this mineral can improve your oral health.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is released from rocks into the soil, water, and air. When used for oral care, fluoride encourages your body to efficiently use minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, to repair weak teeth. More specifically, fluoride and these other minerals join into the structure of your teeth and help remineralize and rebuild your tooth enamel, thus protecting your teeth from harmful bacteria and preventing and reversing early signs of tooth decay.
You may know that most tap water in the U.S. contains small amounts of fluoride (although not enough to prevent tooth decay), not only because this happens naturally, but also because local and state agencies choose to safely add fluoride to our drinking supplies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this practice has been ongoing for the past 75 years and has helped reduce cavities by 25 percent in American adults and children.
There are two forms of fluoride: Systemic and topical. Systemic fluoride is ingested—so, the fluoride that’s in your drinking water, as well as any dietary supplements containing fluoride, come in this form. Meanwhile, topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth in the form of toothpaste or mouthwash as well as via treatments you receive at the dentist.
What is a Fluoride Treatment?
In-office fluoride treatments are one of the best tools in your dentist’s arsenal to protect your dental and oral health. Compared to fluoride in the toothpaste and mouthwash you use at home, professional treatments use much higher concentrations of professional-grade fluoride, which offer more rapid and robust effects than anything you can buy at the pharmacy or grocery store.
An in-office fluoride treatment comes in the form of a solution, gel, foam, or varnish, which is typically applied using a cotton swab or brush or placed in a tray that is held in the mouth for just a few minutes. No pain, no discomfort! The only thing you’ll be asked to do is to avoid rinsing your mouth, eating, or drinking for at least 30 minutes after your fluoride treatment. This time allows the fluoride to absorb into your teeth and get to work on repairing microscopic areas of decay.
And, good news! According to the American Dental Association, fluoride treatments can be used safely on both children and adults. Early exposure to fluoride actually helps prepare newly developing permanent teeth for a lifetime of good health.
What are the Benefits of Fluoride Treatments?
At this point, it’s clear that fluoride works to strengthen and restore your teeth and prevent tooth decay. In addition to these major selling points, professional fluoride treatments can offer the following benefits.
- Prevent gum disease and reduce tooth pain by slowing the growth of bacteria.
- Slow the growth and reduce the risk of cavities.
- Makes your teeth more resistant to acids and the damage caused by acid-producing bacteria.
- Treats hypersensitivity of the teeth by forming a calcium layer that protects your nerves.
- Supports your teeth while you have braces, bridges, or crowns, which typically increase your risk of tooth decay.
Fluoride treatments are most effective for people who are at high or moderate risk of cavities. Here are some habits, conditions, and factors that put you at high risk of developing cavities:
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Poor diet.
- Head and neck radiation therapy.
- Poorly installed or maintained fillings.
- Eating disorders.
- Dry mouth.
Fluoride Treatments in the Woodlands, Texas
While you can get your daily dose of fluoride through over-the-counter products, these don’t compare in their strength or speed of effectiveness against the professional products and work offered by your dentist. And, depending on the condition of your oral health and the types of other orthodontic treatments you are currently undergoing, you may need to get these treatments every twelve, six, or three months.
If you’re going into the dentist’s office at high frequencies, you need a reliable and competent dental team who understands your needs and puts your worries to rest through understanding, education, and transparent services.
Serving the Woodlands, Benders Landing, Woodforest, Spring, and Conroe and Montgomery areas, Carrie Muzny D.D.S. delivers optimal care and customer service make fluoride treatments even more simple and easy to receive than they already are.