When you think about your relationship with your dentist, you may think about all sorts of services and treatments he can provide, including thorough examinations and cleanings, x-rays, cavity fillings, root canals, teeth whitenings and much more. While your dentist can certainly help you with concerns that fall into the areas of restorative and cosmetic dentistry, his chief focus when working with you is on preventive dentistry–helping you to preserve and maintain optimal oral health.
Preventive dentistry requires consistent effort from both the patient and the dentist, as one’s exposure to the leftover food particles and harmful oral bacteria that can lead to oral health issues is constant. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing your teeth once a day, eating a well-balanced and healthy diet and visiting your dentist twice a year for examinations and cleanings are all part of preventive dentistry. So is the use of fluoride.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in the earth’s crust, which is why many foods and water supplies contain fluoride. It was discovered in the 1930s that those individuals who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water experienced two-thirds fewer cavities than those individuals who grew up drinking non-fluoridated water. Subsequent studies have proven that whenever fluoride is added to a water supply, the amount of tooth decay that occurs in that area decreases. Because of this, the American Dental Association, the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association all support the use of fluoridated water to help improve oral health.
When fluoride is present in children’s mouths, it helps to harden the enamel of their baby teeth, and can even harden the enamel of permanent adult teeth before they erupt into the mouth. When fluoride is present in young adult and adult mouths, it helps to harden the enamel of permanent adult teeth in the mouth. It can also help to counteract the demineralization of teeth and strengthen the remineralization of teeth that naturally occurs over time.
The body will naturally absorb and lose fluoride on a regular, daily basis, which is why your dentist recommends that you use products to help replace and balance fluoride levels. The use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash can help, but topical fluoride treatments administered by your dentist are the most effective and long-lasting way to get sufficient quantities of fluoride into your mouth. Just some of the oral health conditions that can be greatly aided by the use of fluoride treatments include:
- Dry mouth (which can stem from chronic illness or from the use of certain medications).
- Gum disease.
- Frequent cavity problems.
- The existence of dental crowns or bridges, which indicate weakened tooth structures.
- Teeth with deep pits or grooves that are therefore difficult to keep clean.
- Regular dental issues due to high sugar and carbohydrate consumption or frequent snacking.
- Sensitive teeth (which can stem from receding gums, teeth whitening products and other things).
Professional Fluoride Treatments
In order to help you experience the many benefits of having adequate levels of fluoride in your mouth, your dentist may recommend that you partake of regular, professional fluoride treatments. These treatments are quick and easy, and consist of your dentist applying a fluoride gel, foam or varnish to your teeth, either through painting it onto the teeth or by placing it in a mouthguard-like tray and putting this over the teeth for anywhere from one to four minutes. In many cases, fluoride treatments do not require that you wait before eating or drinking, so they truly produce no inconvenience while they work to help strengthen and protect your teeth.
For more information about fluoride treatments and how they may benefit you, contact Today’s Dental now.