Almost everyone old enough to read this article has probably had a professional cleaning at the dental office. Along with cleaning, your dentist may or may not have asked if you would like a fluoride treatment. While these are optional services, they can be important. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office. So the next time you’re asked whether or not you want one, you can confidently exclaim, yes!
What is fluoride?
First, you should know fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in many of today’s foods as well as most city water sources. Teeth have many layers of minerals, including fluoride, calcium, and phosphate, that make up the enamel layer. However, because of what we eat, drink, and brushing habits, we can lose some of these essential minerals.
There are two primary causes of eroded enamel and loss of fluoride. The first is from plaque bacteria. For those that don’t often brush plaque will form, and bacteria will spread, this slowly eats away at the enamel. Similarly, when a person consumes sugar, these tasty treats and drinks will wreak havoc upon the teeth, causing demineralization.
Fluoride will naturally protect teeth from having an imbalance between remineralization and demineralization. It has also been known to reverse decay, as it makes it difficult for acids to demineralize the tooth’s enamel.
The importance of fluoride in oral health
As we’ve gone over, teeth need a healthy balance of demineralization and mineralization to be at their best. If the loss of minerals is too significant, the enamel will wear, eventually causing tooth decay. Once tooth decay is present, there is no going back. The only solution is fixing the damage, often with a filling. When tooth decay is allowed to fester, the decay will only spread and, in many cases, will turn to teeth breaking or even tooth loss. But it is straightforward to care for your teeth and ensure tooth loss from tooth decay doesn’t happen, and it starts with making sure the enamel of your teeth is intact.
Sources of fluoride
Okay, so you know that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in food and drinking water. But where else can you derive fluoride to help your oral health? There are a few methods for getting the right amount of fluoride into your diet, and these can be found at your local store.
Perhaps the easiest way to make sure you and your entire family are getting a healthy injection of fluoride into your daily routine is with your toothpaste. Because you already brush daily, or at least you should be, this is a great way to ensure your mineralization process is completed.
Again, mouth rinsing should be a part of your daily routine and a great way to get much-needed fluoride. We recommend that you make sure that the bottle of rinse you are purchasing has it included. Not all mouth rinses contain fluoride, so it’s best to double-check.
Gels and foams
In addition to toothpaste and mouth rinses, there are gels and foams available at your dental office. These are applied, much like teeth whitening systems. Let in place; the fluoride will mostly soak into the enamel to redeposit.
Supplements are another easy way to get a daily dose of fluoride if you are missing out or haven’t been to see the dentist in a while. Many multi-vitamins will already have this mineral in it, so double check yours to see if you have a good balance.
Lastly, a fluoride varnish is a treatment given by your dentist, that most are familiar with. A gel is painted on, or foam is applied in a mouthguard, and the product is allowed to sit on the teeth. This is the easiest way to get fluoride treatment from your dentist, and the results can last much longer than the application one would get from toothpaste and rinses.
Fluoride treatment a dental office
Have you always wondered what happens with a fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office? While your dentist may ask you if you want a fluoride treatment, many include it in your preventative care. Most insurance companies will pay for this treatment, as it is an excellent method for stopping cavities and reversing the signs of tooth decay. Procedures may vary based on the dental office, but there isn’t too much of a difference as the primary methods are foam in a mouthguard or by painting the varnish on.
What happens during professional treatment
During a professional treatment, you might have just had a cleaning performed. Fluoride is typically the last step of the preventative care visit. It can be painted on each tooth to ensure proper coverage.
For younger patients using a tray and foam can be the best route to take. Your dentist will fill the mouthguard with foam and have you bite down. You’ll keep this in place for about ten minutes.
Cost of fluoride treatment at a dental office
Insurance plans often cover fluoride treatments if you have preventative care visits included also. Most of these services can cost under $100 and well worth the investment has given the amount they protect teeth.
Those that are prone to cavities or those between the ages of 6-16 should be having regular oral health visits with their dentist, including fluoride treatments. Replacing lost minerals due to what you eat and drink is vital to protecting the tooth’s enamel and stopping tooth decay in its tracks.