And When You Should Get a Fluoride Treatment at the Dentist’s Office
Fluoride is naturally found in food, soil, and water, as well as in your bones and teeth. Since the 1950s, it’s also been an important component of dental care, as it prevents tooth decay.
But when you’re shopping for toothpaste, you’ve probably come across natural teeth-polishing products that tout a lack of fluoride. These fluoride-free formulations often are advertised as safer for your teeth.
So which is best for the health of your teeth and body? Not only is fluoride safe and effective when used in the appropriate amounts – like the amount in your toothpaste or in a fluoride treatment from your dentist – but it also is necessary for people at high risk of developing cavities.
How Does Fluoride Work?
In your toothpaste and in fluoride treatments, this important substance combats bacteria that cause tooth and gum disease and combats plaque bacteria. It even has been shown to reverse early signs of tooth decay. As a result, fluoride also supports healthy tooth enamel, the hard outer coating on each of your teeth.
So, Should I Use Fluoride Toothpaste Every Day?
Yes, dentists recommend that adults use fluoride toothpaste as part of their daily oral hygiene routine, including brushing your teeth at least twice per day for two minutes each session.
Using the right brushing technique is important. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your gums, and move back and forth and in circles over every surface of your teeth. Click here to read more about proper tooth-brushing techniques.
Should I Get a Dental Fluoride Treatment?
Children should receive fluoride treatments as soon as their teeth begin growing to help prevent decay and dental infections. These treatments should be repeated every three to six months, depending on the child’s risk of developing cavities.
Adults, on the other hand, can receive fluoride treatments every three, six, or 12 months, depending on their oral health. Some adults may benefit from more frequent treatments, especially if they fall into one of these categories:
- They have tooth sensitivity; fluoride helps protect enamel to reduce sensations of sensitivity.
- They experience dry mouth caused by certain prescription medications.
- They have gum recession, which exposes a section of teeth that normally is protected by the gums.
- They have received restorations, such as crowns; fluoride protects the margins of the restorations – the small area of natural tooth that is exposed at the gumline.
- They’re undergoing cancer treatments, such as radiation.
- They’re receiving orthodontic care, such as braces, which can make effective tooth-brushing more difficult to accomplish.
What Happens During a Fluoride Treatment at the Dentist’s Office?
Receiving a fluoride treatment is one of the least intense things that happen in the dentist’s chair! In fact, it’s less invasive than regular teeth cleanings. Here’s what happens during a treatment.
- Your dental hygienist will apply fluoride to your teeth in the form of a varnish, gel, or foam. This can be applied with a swab or in a lightweight tray you hold in your mouth while you relax in the chair.
- You’ll hold the fluoride on your teeth for a few minutes. It has a pleasant flavor, so you don’t have to worry about the taste.
- The hygienist will remove the tray from your mouth, if applicable.
- You should avoid eating or drinking for at least 30 minutes after your fluoride treatment. This gives your teeth enough time to absorb it.
Is It Possible to Use Too Much Fluoride on My Teeth?
Although it’s technically possible to use too much fluoride, it’s very difficult to do, and generally is only an issue for children under age 8. Fluorosis, the overexposure to fluoride, can cause white or brown spots to form on the teeth in this age group, but it is far less common in adults.
There is little risk of fluorosis in adults who use a proper amount of toothpaste and receive the only recommended dental fluoride treatments. Too little fluoride, however, can cause bone and tooth weakness for the rest of your life.
Schedule Preventative Dentistry and a Flouride Treatment Today
If you want to take proper care of your teeth and other oral structures, then it’s a smart move to schedule regular preventative care appointments with your dentist. Your preventative care visits should include twice–a-year teeth cleanings and optional dental fluoride treatments to keep your enamel as healthy and strong as possible.