Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps to strengthen the enamel of your teeth and prevent cavities from developing in your smile. Here, our Camrose dentists explain how topical fluoride treatments work to protect your teeth.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is found within any all-natural water source and is the ionic form of the element fluorine. Fluorine reaches water sources by leaching from rocks and soil into the groundwater in a given area.
When used as directed by a dentist or within the context of community water fluoridation programs, fluoride is a safe and effective agent that can be used to prevent and control dental caries (cavities).
How is fluoride good for teeth?
The enamel of your teeth constantly undergoes both a demineralization and demineralization process.
Demineralization described the loss of minerals from your enamel. this occurs when acids attack the enamel after being formed by plaque and bacteria in your mouth.
During remineralization, minerals like calcium, phosphate, and fluoride are redeposited to the enamel when we drink water or eat certain mineral-rich foods.
When your teeth aren't able to be sufficiently remineralized (if you don't consume enough of the minerals required to remineralize them), tooth decay will often be the result.
Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by making your teeth more resistant to acid and more easily reconstructing their enamel after minor degradation caused by acids. Because of this, fluoride can even reverse decay that has already begun.
For children under six years old, fluoride becomes incorporated into the developing permanent teeth, making it more difficult for acids to demineralize them.
When is fluoride intake most important?
Infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years need to be exposed to fluoride. This is the timeframe during which the primary and permanent teeth are growing.
With that being said, fluoride is very important for adults too. Topical fluoride from toothpaste, fluoride treatments and mouth rinses are as important in fighting tooth decay as they are for strengthening your developing teeth.
Fluoride Treatment At Your Dentist’s Office
Sometimes, fluoride consumed via water and food is not sufficient to protect the teeth, and in these cases, additional fluoride application is advisable.
While there are several over-the-counter fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash options, these generally contain quite low levels of fluoride.
Stronger concentrations are available by prescription, and your dentist can also apply fluoride treatment in stronger concentrations at your dental clinic.
Fluoride treatments offered at your dental clinic will generally be on-time applications of foam, gel or varnish to your teeth. Varnishes are painted onto your teeth and left to settle in, foams are placed in trays and then applied to your teeth for a few minutes and gel can be applied through either method.