Every single day, your body takes in fluoride and loses fluoride. The way you take in fluoride is through foods you eat and water. The way you lose fluoride is through demineralization of your teeh when acids caused by plaque bacteria and sugars in your mouth attack tooth enamel. You can "put fluoride back" (as well as calcium and phosphate) into your tooth’s enamel layer by eating healthy foods and drinking fluoridated water. Another way to get more flouride is through fluoride treatments at your dentist's office. Basically if you lose fluoride faster than you take it in, you are at risk of tooth decay.
How does an adult fluoride treatment from my dentist help me?
Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by defending your teeth against acid attacks caused by plaque bacteria and sugars in your mouth. Amazingly, it can also reverse early tooth decay. For kids younger than 6 years, fluoride is part of the the development of permanent teeth, making it difficult for acids to demineralize the teeth.
But we now know that adults can also benefit from added fluoride. Fluoride disrupts acid production in the already erupted teeth of adults, as well as children.
In addition to fluoride in foods and water, fluoride can be directly applied to the teeth through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. You can find some of these products containing fluoride in lower strengths over the counter at your local drugstore. Stronger concentrations require a doctor’s prescription or you can get them at your dentist’s office. At First Choice Dental, we offer a high-fluoride toothpaste called Prevident. We also offer fluoride treatments for both children and adults.
In What Forms Is Fluoride Available?
Your dentist can apply fluoride to the teeth as a gel, foam, or varnish. These treatments contain a much higher level of fluoride than the amount found in toothpastes and mouth rinses. Varnishes are painted on the teeth, and this is what we recommend at First Choice Dental. When you have a fluoride varnish, you can eat or drink immediately afterward.
For those in need of an extra fluoride boost, fluoride supplements are available as liquids and tablets, and must be prescribed by your dentist, pediatrician, or family doctor.
Do Adults Really Need Extra Fluoride?
When teeth are developing in infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years, we’re very used to our dentist talking about getting enough fluoride. But adults benefit from fluoride, too. New research shows that topical fluoride -- from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments -- are as important in fighting tooth decay as in strengthening developing teeth.
Certain Conditions Put Adults at Risk for Fluoride Loss
Some people have certain conditions that put them at increased risk of tooth decay, and so they will benefit from additional fluoride treatments. Here are some examples:
- Dry mouth conditions caused by diseases or medications. The lack of saliva makes it harder for food particles to be washed away and acids to be neutralized, putting your teeth at risk of demineralization.
- Gum recession and gum disease can expose more of your tooth and tooth roots to bacteria increasing the chance of tooth decay.
- History of frequent cavities: If you have one cavity every year or every other year, you may benefit from additional fluoride.
- Dental work present in the mouth, like crowns, bridges or braces: Some dental treatments put teeth at risk for decay at the point where the crown meets the underlying tooth structure or around the brackets of orthodontic appliances.
- Patients who are frequent snackers, eat sugary foods, or have a family history of cavities are at an increased risk of tooth decay.
- Patients who have deep pits and grooves in their teeth are prone to dental decay.
Your dentist and dental hygienist can help you know if your teeth would benefit from additional fluoride. If they would, it’s easy to have this procedure done when you’re in for your regular appointment. Request an appointment today.