If your last few dental appointments have indicated that your oral health is declining, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments. Here are a few questions and answers about fluoride to help you better understand this therapeutic mineral:
How does fluoride help your teeth?
When fluoride is placed in your mouth, it coats the surface of your tooth enamel and attracts other minerals back to the tooth's surface. Minerals, such as phosphorus and calcium, are regularly dissolved by bacterial acids as well as acidic substances that you ingest, such as sodas and citrus juices. Bacterial acids are released as byproducts of digestion when the oral bacteria in your mouth feed.
As the fluoride combines with the dissolved minerals, a new enamel material is formed that is more resistant to the damaging effects of acid than the original tooth enamel was.
How can you get more fluoride?
Fluoride can be applied as a topical treatment or ingested systematically. Topical applications include the use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash that are designed for at-home use. They also include fluoride treatments that are performed in the office of a dental professional.
Systemic fluoride is obtained through the foods that you eat. It is also introduced through the things that you drink, such as fluoridated tap water.
If you are already receiving fluoride in your food and drink, why would you need a fluoride treatment?
A fluoride treatment offers the mineral in a much more concentrated form than what is received through food, drink, toothpaste or oral rinses.
What can you expect from a fluoride treatment?
During a fluoride treatment, your dentist applies the fluoride to your teeth by painting it onto the surface of the tooth enamel, placing the fluoride product in a mouth tray, or having you hold the solution in your mouth.
Professional fluoride products are not foul-tasting or uncomfortable to the mouth, and they only have to be held in place for a few minutes. After the prescribed period has elapsed, the fluoride can be removed from the mouth. Following the treatment, your dentist may ask you to refrain from food or drink for a few moments after your appointment to allow the fluoride to be properly absorbed by your teeth.
Isn't too much fluoride bad for you?
Fluoride is only dangerous if it is ingested in huge quantities. The amount present in food and drinks is too little to cause an overdose, and the fluoride used in dental applications is not swallowed.
To learn more about fluoride and its oral health benefits, schedule an appointment with a dentist in your area, such as Paul Dona DDS.