Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps to strengthen teeth and protect them from cavities caused by dental decay. Dental decay happens when the sugars in the food and drink we consume interact with the bacteria in the mouth and produce a sticky film on the teeth called plaque and plaque acids. If plaque and these acids are not removed from our teeth promptly, they can start to cause damage to them. Plaque acids will eventually erode the outermost layer of the tooth, exposing the softer, inner sections which are more sensitive and will cause you to experience pain. If decay is left untreated, eventually it can penetrate the innermost part of the tooth known as the pulp. This is where the roots are located and if they become affected by decay, they will be unable to deliver blood and nutrients to the tooth to keep it healthy. The tooth may die and fall out or require extraction.
Studies have shown that fluoride treatment is highly effective at providing additional protection against tooth decay provided it is applied at least twice a year. For this reason, many dentists are now offering fluoride treatment alongside your regular, six-monthly dental check-ups. It is especially recommended for those patients who are at higher risk of developing cavities.
Am I at increased risk of cavities?
There are various groups of people who are more likely to suffer from dental cavities and would significantly benefit from fluoride treatment. These include people:
What can I expect to happen during fluoride treatment?
Fluoride treatment is completely painless and so there is no need to feel anxious about your appointment. Typically, the fluoride for your treatment comes in the form of a rinse, foam, gel or varnish. The concentration of fluoride in these treatments is considerably higher than you can obtain through your toothpaste or mouthwash alone. The type of application your dentist will use will depend on the form of fluoride you are having. For example, the varnish may be pasted on using a brush while if you are using a rinse, this will probably be supplied as a type of mouthwash. The entire process usually takes just a few minutes and you will be able to leave as soon as it is complete. Your dentist will ensure that you are aware that you need to avoiding eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes after your appointment. This will prevent the fluoride from coming off and mean that your smile gets the full benefit of the treatment.
Is there anything else I can do to boost my fluoride intake?
In addition to regular fluoride treatments on a schedule determined by your dentist, there are some foods and drinks which contain reasonably high levels of fluoride and could boost your intake. These include:
If you think that you could benefit from fluoride treatment, please contact our clinic to schedule an appointment.