Fluoride occurs naturally, both in foods and in water, and is generally very beneficial for your teeth. It is capable of reducing the risk of tooth decay and cavities, as well as preventing plaque buildup on the surface of your teeth. When plaque and other forms of bacteria build up, your teeth will lose part of their enamel layer. Over time, this leaves them vulnerable to decay. However, fluoride can strengthen the enamel of your teeth by adding minerals back to the enamel layer, reducing the risk of tooth decay. In the early stages of tooth decay, it can even help reverse any decay that has taken place, though obviously fluoride cannot undo all tooth decay.
How Is Fluoride Applied?
To keep your teeth healthy, we can apply fluoride directly to your teeth. To do this, we use special rinses and toothpastes that contain a great deal of fluoride. You can purchase both fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses over-the-counter, but only the weaker kind. The strongest and most effective fluoride rinses and toothpastes can only be obtained with a prescription. In our offices, we can also apply fluoride to your teeth in much higher doses. There are three main methods that we might use. First, we can apply a fluoride foam to a mouthguard and place it in your mouth for at least a minute (sometimes more, depending on the circumstances). Secondly, we can paint the fluoride onto your teeth with a special varnish. And finally, we can apply fluoride as a gel using either the painting process or a mouthguard.
What Else Should I Know about the Process?
Fluoride treatment will generally only take a few minutes. However, once the treatment is finished, we will ask you not to eat, drink, or rinse your mouth for at least half an hour. This is to allow your teeth to fully absorb the fluoride, as food and water could potentially interfere with this process. How often you receive fluoride treatment largely depends on your oral health. Most patients receive fluoride treatment once a year, though some need it every three or six months.