Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations. When used correctly, Fluoride is safe and effective.
Fluoride works in two ways:
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We receive topical fluoride when we use toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists generally recommend that children and adults have a professional application of fluoride twice a year after a professional dental cleaning when the teeth can best absorb the fluoride.
Systemic fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supplies. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing (ie: child eating toothpaste), a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result. Our Dentists are happy to discuss any questions you may have about Fluoride.
Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.
Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.
Fair to poor oral hygiene habits.
Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake.
Inadequate exposure to fluorides.
Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications.
Frequent history of dental decay.
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss nightly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.