Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods, bottled beverages, and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 70 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations. Dr. Drakulovic and Aileen will routinely discuss fluoride as it pertains to individual patients' needs.
Fluoride works in two ways:
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. We generally recommend that children under the age of 18 years old have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.
Systemic (Ingested) fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and community water supplies if optimally fluoridated to 1ppm. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by your dentist or physician. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants; tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. It is very important to monitor the amounts of fluoride a child ingests. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result.
Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Our dentist or hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth
Exposed and sensitive root surfaces
Poor oral hygiene habits
Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake
Inadequate exposure to fluorides
Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments, or medications
Recent history of dental decay
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.