Fluoride treatments in the dental office can provide extra protection for your teeth. Acid-producing bacteria that collect around the teeth causes tooth decay and can develop a sticky, clear film called “plaque.” Without good daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits, teeth become more vulnerable to bacteria. Brushing twice a day and cleaning between teeth with floss or another type of inter- dental cleaner help remove plaque. Regular dental examinations and cleanings also are important for keeping teeth healthy. Another key to good oral health is fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent bacteria and can repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of the disease. Fluoride can be obtained in two forms: topical and systemic.
Topical and Systemic fluorides:
Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth enamel. Some examples include fluoride tooth- pastes and mouth-rinses, as well as fluoride treatments in the dental office. Systemic fluorides are those that are swallowed. Examples include fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplements. Dentists have used in-office fluoride treatments for decades to help protect the oral health of children and adults, especially patients who may be at a higher risk of developing caries. Some factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing caries include the following: poor oral hygiene; eating disorders; drug or alcohol abuse; and lack of regular professional dental care; to name a few.
Professional fluoride treatments:
If you, or a family member, are at a moderate-to-high risk of developing cavities, a professional fluoride treatment can help. The fluoride preparation used in the dental office is a much stronger concentration than that in toothpastes or fluoride mouth rinses that may be available in a store or at a pharmacy. Professional fluoride treatments generally take just a few minutes. The fluoride may be in the form of a solution, gel, foam or varnish. Typically, it is applied with a cotton swab or brush, or it is used as a rinse or placed in a tray that is held in the mouth for several minutes. After the treatment, you may be asked not to rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health status, fluoride treatments may be recommended every three, six or 12 months.
Fluoride Treatments for children:
Once your child has a tooth, your pediatrician may recommend that your child receive fluoride treatment in a dental office to help prevent tooth decay. This can be done 2 to 4 times per year. Some pediatricians are trained to apply fluoride in their office because many young children do not see a dentist but if your child is already under a dentist’s care, fluoride may be applied in the office. The number of treatments depends on how likely it is that your child may get a cavity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants receive oral health risk assessments by 6 months of age.
If it’s been a while since you, or your child, has had a fluoride treatment, call the office to schedule an appointment.