Our dentists at Oakwood Dental place a strong emphasis on preventive dentistry treatments designed to keep your smile healthy for life. While routine dental cleanings and caring for your teeth at home can go a long way to safeguard your teeth and gums, additional preventive dental care, such as fluoride treatments, can also help to strengthen your smile and prevent more serious oral health problems from developing.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral. Along with phosphorus and calcium, fluoride is one of the minerals that are integral to the composition of the teeth and tooth enamel.
How Does Fluoride Protect Teeth?
Acidic foods and beverages and the bacteria in the mouth expose the teeth to acid. This acid in the mouth gradually breaks down tooth enamel (the outermost surface of the teeth). This process is called tooth decay. Left unchecked, tooth decay can progress into cavities, tooth infections, and serious oral health problems.
Remineralization is a natural process that fights tooth decay. This occurs when the saliva in the mouth, containing fluoride and other minerals that have been ingested, washes over the teeth, restoring tooth enamel at a molecular level. Remineralization can also occur when the teeth are exposed to fluoride from other sources such as in dental care products and during professional fluoride treatments.
With professional fluoride treatments, patients can even reverse the early stages of tooth decay, preventing a problem that could have turned into a cavity if ignored.
The Most Common Fluoride Sources
Fluoride can be found in several sources. Some of these, such as tap water treated with fluoride and fluoride supplements, result in fluoride being ingested. Other sources, such as professional fluoride treatments, toothpaste, and mouthwash, remineralize the teeth topically.
When To Have a Professional Fluoride Treatment
Every patient is different, and determining when the time is right for a fluoride treatment largely depends on each patient’s current and past oral health.
We might recommend a professional fluoride treatment to patients who have been diagnosed with tooth decay, who have cavities that are being treated, or patients with receding gums who are experiencing severe tooth sensitivity as a result of the dentin of the teeth being exposed.
In other cases, we simply might recommend that professional fluoride treatments be included in a patient’s ongoing, routine preventive dental care.
Is Too Much Fluoride a Bad Thing?
There is no risk of exposing your teeth to too much topical fluoride.
Children who still have permanent teeth developing below the gum line, however, can ingest too much fluoride through treated tap water and supplements. Ingesting too much fluoride while the adult teeth are still developing can result in discolorations that usually appear as darker spots on the permanent teeth when they come in.
To help prevent this, be sure to talk with your child about the importance of not swallowing their toothpaste when they brush their teeth. Be careful to only use a pea-sized or rice-sized amount for an infant or toddler who is too young to spit out their toothpaste.
Additionally, we recommend talking with our dentists before adding a fluoride supplement to your child’s healthcare routine.
What To Expect During a Fluoride Treatment
Professional fluoride treatments come in many forms: gel with trays, foam, and varnish. Our dentists can talk with you about each of these types of fluoride to help you determine the one that works best for you.
Preventive Dentistry With Our Dentists in Bucyrus
To learn more about fluoride treatments or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Attila Nagy or Dr. Michelle Nagy, we welcome you to contact Oakwood Dental today.