When it comes to your oral health, you know that regular preventive practices — like brushing and flossing — are key to preventing cavities and decay. However, did you know that there's another preventive treatment that's quick, easy, and effective?

Fluoride treatments help protect, strengthen, and remineralize your teeth against the daily onslaught of bacteria that cause decay and cavities. This powerful mineral can make all the difference for your oral health when applied by a professional dental team. Wondering if a fluoride treatment is right for you? Let's take a closer look.

 

What is Fluoride?

Interestingly, fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that is found in water throughout the world in varying amounts. In the 1940's, American researchers discovered that this common mineral — when used at the correct concentration — could help make teeth resistant to decay. 

Most of us actually use topical fluoride every day, since it's present in most toothpastes at a low concentration. In addition, certain communities add fluoride to a town's drinking water supply — a practice known as systemic fluoridation. According to the American Dental Association, putting fluoride into water can decrease tooth decay by 25%. 

Pursuing professional fluoride treatments can provide advanced protection by using an increased concentration of fluoride.

 

How Does Fluoride Help my Teeth? 

To understand how fluoride treatments can help protect your teeth, it's important to know what causes cavities in the first place.

 

Bacteria, Plaque and Cavities

The surface of our teeth, called the enamel, protects our entire tooth structure. When holes — called cavities — form in the enamel, this leaves the rest of our tooth vulnerable to decay.

How do those cavities form in the first place? Everyone's mouth contains bacteria. Some of this bacteria is harmful and interacts with the food and drinks we consume to create an acidic substance. Over time, this acid-causing bacteria builds up in a colorless film called plaque which eats away at the enamel. If left untreated, this can create tooth decay and cavities.

 

Will Fluoride Help Reduce Cavities?

In children, fluoride that is ingested can actually strengthen developing teeth from the inside out, while topical fluoride protects adult teeth by interacting with elements in the saliva to remineralize the tooth surface. When placed on the surface of your teeth, fluoride interacts with other minerals, called calcium and phosphate, to create a protective barrier. This protective mineral barrier then helps shield teeth from plaque and cavities.

 

What to Expect From a Fluoride Treatment

Luckily, this preventive treatment is quick, easy, and pain-free.

  • What should I expect? During a fluoride treatment, your dentist, or dental hygienist in most cases, will use a specially concentrated fluoride product to strengthen and remineralize your teeth. Depending on your needs, this could take the form of a simple rinse, gel, or foam. In other cases, your dental providers will paint your teeth with a protective fluoride varnish.
  • How long does this treatment take? There's no need to worry about the hassle and stress of a lengthy procedure, since most fluoride treatments will only require a brief visit.
  • How often do I need a treatment? Depending on your specific needs, it's recommended that you receive a fluoride treatment every three to twelve months  — usually after your normal hygiene maintenance appointment. 

 

Should I Consider a Fluoride Treatment?

When it comes to preventive dentistry, fluoride treatments are one of the best things you can do. Even if you have relatively few issues with cavities, the remineralizing power of fluoride can help keep your teeth healthy and strong. For most people, receiving a preventive treatment of fluoride during a routine tooth cleaning is sufficient.

However, there are some cases where you and your dentist might decide it's a good idea to schedule more frequent fluoride treatments. Talk to your dentist if you:

  • Have active cavities or caries
  • Have difficulty maintaining oral hygiene
  • Have reduced salivation (from medications or certain conditions)
  • Are struggling with alcohol, drug use, or eating disorders
  • Haven't had regular dental care in the past

 

Fluoride Treatments with Dr. Tyler

It's important to speak to an expert about whether fluoride treatments are right for you. At Stuart Prosthetic Dentistry, we specialize in providing compassionate and professional prosthodontic care, general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and preventive dentistry. As one of the top dental providers in Florida, we take pride at restoring your confidence, protecting your teeth from further wear, and helping you achieve your healthiest smile. To schedule a fluoride treatment near Stuart, please contact us today.