Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, has been used for many years to prevent tooth decay. The decay process begins when bacteria and sugars in the mouth produce acids that erode the tooth's protective enamel. This leads to demineralization, where minerals are lost from the enamel, ultimately resulting in cavities.
Fluoride plays a crucial role in strengthening teeth through a process called remineralization. It bonds to weakened areas of tooth enamel and helps disrupt acid production, inhibiting tooth decay.
Fluoride is beneficial for people of all ages. Children who receive sufficient fluoride while their teeth are still developing will have stronger and more resistant permanent teeth throughout their lives. Adults who are susceptible to tooth decay can also benefit from fluoride treatments.
While fluoride can reverse early tooth decay and prevent cavities, it cannot heal existing cavities. Nonetheless, it remains a cost-effective strategy for maintaining dental health and preventing more serious problems in the future.
Who benefits most from fluoride treatment?
- Children whose permanent teeth are still developing. Early fluoride exposure fortifies the emerging permanent teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to decay.
- Individuals with dry mouth. Saliva helps neutralize acid and protect the teeth, so those with conditions causing dry mouth or taking certain medications can benefit from fluoride treatment.
- Those with a history of cavities. These individuals may be more susceptible to future decay.
- Those with poor dental hygiene. Illnesses or conditions that limit regular brushing and flossing can lead to plaque and tartar buildup, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
- Individuals with crowns or bridges. These restorations can be prone to decay at the junction where they meet the natural tooth.
- Individuals with braces. Braces can trap food particles, making it harder to maintain proper oral hygiene.
- Frequent snackers and those with a high-sugar diet. Increased exposure to plaque and bacteria puts the enamel at greater risk.
- Bottled-water drinkers and those with insufficient fluoride intake.
Is fluoride safe?
Fluoride has been extensively used and approved as safe and effective by major health and safety organizations. Excessive fluoride consumption over prolonged periods can harm teeth and bones, although this is rare. Your dentist will determine if you are a suitable candidate for fluoride treatment, which is safe and effective when applied correctly.
Fluoride treatment typically requires a single appointment. A flavored fluoride gel or foam will be placed in a tray resembling a mouthguard and kept in the mouth for one to four minutes. Afterward, you can spit out the solution and refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, or rinsing for 30 minutes. Some dentists may use fluoride varnish, which is painted onto the teeth.
At Dental Esthetics Boston, we use the latest technology and finest materials to offer quick, comfortable, and effective fluoride treatments. Instructions for post-treatment care will be provided. While fluoride can reverse early tooth decay and prevent cavities, maintaining proper oral hygiene, adopting good eating habits, and scheduling regular dental visits are essential for the long-term health of your teeth.
If you have any questions about fluoride treatment or wish to schedule an oral health consultation with one of our doctors, please don't hesitate to contact us.