Dental decay is a common condition all over the world. One way to help prevent cavities from occurring is by using fluoride. Fluoride helps harden tooth enamel, so it resists tooth decay. To stop a small cavity or even reverse it, fluoride re-mineralizes teeth. Fluoride can be delivered to the teeth in two ways: topically (direct contact on the teeth) and systemically (enters the blood stream).
Systemic fluoride is delivered to the tooth surface via the bloodstream. Systemic fluoride can be derived from a food source, water source, or dietary supplements (pill, tablet, lozenge, drop). Fluoridated water is an effective way to reduce the problem of dental decay. It has been shown that fluoridated water and dietary supplements can reduce up to 60% of tooth decay.
Some water supplies naturally contain fluoride, but for others fluoride is added to the water supply. If you would like to know if your community’s water supply contains fluoride, call your local water or health department.
Children from birth to 16 years of age will benefit the most from systemic fluoride. Sixteen is currently the age at which the American Dental Association recommends children can discontinue fluoride vitamin supplements. This is because when fluoride is ingested, it circulates through the bloodstream and into developing teeth. The fluoride is then built into the enamel structure of the developing tooth, making the tooth more resistant to acids.
Even though the benefits of fluoride are maximized before the teeth erupt (come in), fluoride is still very beneficial for children and adults after the teeth are fully erupted. Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth structure to delay or slow down the tooth decay process.
- Topical forms of fluoride include:
- Toothpaste – used daily, must have an ADA or CDA Seal of Acceptance on the label.
- Professional fluoride application – this is a gel that is applied for 1 to 4 minutes, usually in a tray at the end of a dental appointment. Not everyone is given a professional fluoride application; it depends on your oral health needs.
- Fluoridated home mouth rinses – can be purchased over the counter and used for children over 6 years of age and adults who are susceptible to cavities.
- Home care fluoride gels – applied by trays or by brush, these gels are for those who are highly susceptible to cavities. These people would include:
- Adults with a high incidence of root cavities.
- Those who experience an extremely dry mouth.
- People who wear braces or orthodontic appliances.
- Those who have rampant or excessive cavities.
- Even though the benefits of fluoride are maximized before the teeth erupt, fluoride is still very beneficial as a daily defense against decay. Fluoride gels can be purchased over the counter or by prescription. Ask us for a daily home fluoride program that is individualized for your needs.
Next time you’re here, ask Dr. Wong about in-office fluoride treatments.
About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California
Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.