Fluoride Treatment 101: Everything You Need to Know

Jun 01, 2020

Dental cavities or decay are common affecting both children and adults alike. Cavities are triggered by acid-producing bacteria that accumulate around the teeth and gums. The bacteria cause the formation of a sticky film commonly called plaques. Without proper hygiene, regular dental checkups and cleaning, the plaque can harden and form tartar, which not only causes cavities but also gum disease.

Another important element to maintaining healthy teeth and gums is fluoride. This is a naturally occurring mineral that adds a layer of protection to your teeth.

Why Is Fluoride Important?

Every day the teeth go through two processes: demineralization and reabsorption of the minerals. Demineralization is the loss mineral such as calcium and phosphate that are crucial to the health of the enamel. These two processes must be balanced to protect the teeth. However, when the reabsorption of the minerals does not occur, the enamel becomes weaker and prone to cavities.

Fluoride helps in the reabsorption process, thereby strengthening the enamel. Additionally, it acts as a protective shield against cavities.

When Is Fluoride Treatment Needed?

Although fluoride treatment is recommended for your daily oral hygiene, several conditions also warrant the use of the treatment.

  • Dry mouth. Xerostomia is caused by certain medications, radiation, and Sjogren’s syndrome which affect saliva production. Saliva helps in cleaning the teeth and removing the food particles. Lack of saliva increases the risk of developing dental cavities.
  • Gum disease. Tartar accumulation leads to gum inflammation and infection that in turn causes the gingivae to recede and expose the roots. This increases your risk of cavities.
  • The presence of dental restorations such as crowns or bridges also put your teeth at risk of cavities. The tiny spaces between your teeth and the bridges can cause bacteria to sneak in and multiply.

What Forms of Fluoride Treatments Available?

Two forms of fluoride dental treatments are available: topical and systemic and both are effective in strengthening your teeth.

Systemic fluoride treatments are swallowed and include fluoridated water and dietary supplements.

Topical fluoride treatments are applied on the surface of the teeth and come in different types including toothpaste and mouth rinses. However, the most effective option is the fluoride treatment that is done at the dental office.

Professional fluoride treatments in Portland take a few minutes. The dentist will apply a solution gel, varnish, or foam on the teeth surface. Avoid eating or drinking after the treatment to allow the enamel to absorb the fluoride.

The frequency of the fluoride treatment will depend on your oral health status but is usually done every three, six, or 12 months. The dentist may also recommend other preventive dentistry in Portland to enhance your oral health.

For effective results, you need both topical and systemic fluoride treatments.

Are There Any Side Effects of Fluoride Treatment?

Fluoride is safe, however, if used in excess it can lead to side effects such as:

  • Tooth discoloration is the common side effect of fluoride overdose. The mineral can cause the formation of white specks on the teeth.
  • Skin irritation and allergies can also occur
  • Dense, but weak bones
  • Acute toxicity is mostly triggered by overconsumption of fluoride supplements. Toxicity causes nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and tiredness.

Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?

Children between six months and 16 years also need fluoride because this is the time when the teeth (primary and permanent) emerge and both need proper dental care. There are, however, guidelines on fluoride use for children that must be followed to prevent an overdose.

The American Dental Association recommends fluoride varnish for children under six years old. Children tend to swallow the foam and gel which can increase the risk of an overdose.

Furthermore, avoid the use of fluoride toothpaste for children under two years. Don’t forget to supervise the children when they are brushing to ensure they do it correctly and remove plaque buildup.

Make an Appointment

If you are seeking Portland dentistry for fluoride treatment, visit Laurelhurst Dentistry. We also have other preventive dental treatments such as dental cleaning that are guaranteed to improve your oral health.

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