Fluoride treatments are given when prescribed by Dr. Schwei as part of your dental cleaning appointment. They are beneficial for both children and adults in strengthening and rebuilding enamel to help prevent decay. Fluoride treatments, along with other preventive steps that we can recommend, can help you have healthier teeth.
What are fluoride treatments?
Patients may be aware that they have been asked to gargle fluoride, or that it is in their toothpaste, but they may not be aware of what it is and how it can be helpful. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was quoted as saying that fluoride is "one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century." This is due to the significant findings of fluoride protecting our teeth. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. Our teeth and uses this mineral to strengthen the enamel.
Though our teeth appear to be flat, if you were to look at a tooth under a microscope, you would see that the enamel is tiny shards all mashed together. As we use our teeth, we lose tiny shards of enamel, known as demineralization. Eventually, areas of enamel are thin, exposing the yellowed dentin beneath. Dentin is sensitive, so it may be exposed dentin that causes discomfort to our teeth. Fluoride rebuilds those tiny shards. This is known as remineralization. It was based on studies in the early 20th century that science realized just how important fluoride is, and some areas began adding to the drinking water. Cities that have fluoridated city water experience significantly less tooth decay.
Are fluoride treatments necessary for adults?
Traditionally, dentists applied fluoride to children only, thinking that fluoride was only helpful for developing teeth. Today, we know that fluoride continues to be helpful to our teeth even after a tooth is fully developed. At Premier Valley Dental, we will suggest a fluoride treatment when deemed helpful, either based on decay levels, or if the enamel appears thin in places, or if we just find that it would be useful to the patient.
Fluoride Products and Treatment Application
Today, fluoride is found in many cities drinking water; if you are unsure, you can contact your water company for more information. Other water sources, such as people who drink well water, or mainly drink bottled water, may not be getting the needed fluoride. There are other products. Most toothpaste and some mouth rinses also contain fluoride. In our office, we apply topical fluoride as a gel or rinse, and we can prescribe fluoride supplements as needed. Following an, in office fluoride treatment the patient is asked to not eat or drink anything for half an hour.
In recent years there have been some arguments against fluoride. If used incorrectly, there are conditions such as fluorosis that can occur. Fluorosis is an uneven coloring that can happen when a child with developing teeth has been overexposed to fluoride. We do find fluoride to be beneficial in your drinking water and do recommend treatment as necessary.