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Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral in both food and water that helps restore the minerals and the enamel on your teeth. These minerals are important because tooth enamel can be worn down by the foods you eat, the beverages you drink, and the acid produced from plaque. Fluoride works to help remineralize your tooth, making your enamel stronger and more resistant to tooth decay.

Fluoride treatment is just one of the many dental services offered at Bright Now! Dental, and it’s an easy, affordable way to help your smile stay healthy. While almost everyone can benefit from fluoride treatments, our dentists will look at factors like oral health, age, risk of developing cavities, and weight to determine what type of fluoride treatment might be best for you.

To see if fluoride treatment is right for you or your child, find your nearest Bright Now! Dental location and schedule an appointment today! Whether as a separate treatment or one you add on after your teeth cleaning, fluoride treatment is one of the best preventative measures you can take to protect your dental health.

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What are the benefits of fluoride treatment? 

Bacteria consume sugars on your teeth and produce acid as a byproduct, which can lead to tooth decay. Over time, this acid will start to wear away at your tooth’s enamel, creating cavities, or small holes in your teeth. Cavities will not heal on their own and need to be treated by a dentist, usually with a filling. By making your enamel more resistant to acid, fluoride treatment can help prevent cavities from forming, and may even reverse early signs of tooth decay in general. 

The reversal of early tooth decay is often why dentists recommend fluoride treatments for all children under the age of 6. This is a critical developmental period during which children are still learning how to take care of their teeth and may not be very consistent in cleaning them. You can help provide extra protection for their growing teeth with fluoride treatment. 

What are the risks of fluoride treatment? 

While fluoride treatment is highly effective for cavity prevention, it should only be used as directed and with supervision from a dental professional. High doses of fluoride can be toxic, depending on the weight of the individual using fluoride treatment, so fluoride in children needs to be monitored regularly so it doesn’t develop into fluorosis.

Fluorosis is a potential side effect of consuming too much fluoride characterized by streaks or white spots that start appearing on the enamel. Fluorosis occurs from frequent exposure to multiple sources of fluoride, such as using over-the-counter fluoride treatments or from grape products, dried fruit, dried beans, cocoa powder, walnuts, and old tea leaves, which absorb fluoride from the soil and can have very high levels of the mineral.

In addition to natural sources, fluoride is also commonly found in:

  • Well water, although it should be tested to determine the specific fluoride levels
  • Toothpaste
  • Supplemental fluoride, such as through tablets
  • Fluoride mouthwash

While early fluorosis is primarily a cosmetic concern, indications of it should not be ignored, especially among children. Though rare, excessive consumption of fluoride in a short amount of time can be toxic and become very serious. Contact your dentist or a health care professional immediately if you begin to notice signs of fluorosis or if you’re concerned you or your child has ingested too much fluoride. 

What are signs that fluoride treatment is necessary?

Your dentist will determine whether or not you need a fluoride treatment, but some common signs that fluoride treatments might be helpful include having: 

  • Large amounts of cavities and/or tooth decay
  • Gum disease or infected gums
  • Lingering plaque or bacteria due to a lack of saliva
  • A dry mouth condition
  • Poor oral hygiene, particularly in hard to reach areas
  • Dental crowns or braces

Should children get fluoride treatment?

It’s important to teach children good oral hygiene habits, especially as their permanent teeth begin to come in, and regular fluoride treatments are a good way to help ensure those teeth develop strong, healthy enamel as children learn to care for them. Systemic fluoride treatment options are also good for developing strong tooth enamel as permanent teeth are developing. If you and your dentist do decide to use fluoride supplements as a treatment option, be sure they are consumed in small amounts. You’ll want to discuss proper dosage to ensure there isn’t an over-consumption of fluoride.

What types of fluoride treatments are available?

If you have several factors that leave you at risk for developing tooth decay–and even if you don’t–fluoride treatments can be an affordable, effective way to reduce your chances of developing a cavity and improve the strength of your teeth. 

At-Home Topical Treatments

At-home topical fluoride treatments include anything from toothpastes and gels to mouth rinses, and many can be found at a local pharmacy.  Your dentist may also prescribe prescription-strength fluoride; just be sure to follow the directions for use.

Systemic Fluoride Treatment

Instead of being applied directly to the teeth, systemic fluoride treatments are ingested as fluoride supplements or by eating and drinking products that have small amounts of fluoride added to them. Public drinking water will often have small amounts of fluoride added to it to help improve everyone’s dental health.

In-Office Treatments

A third option for fluoride treatment is an in-office treatment, which can often be applied during a routine cleaning and uses stronger ingredients than over-the-counter products.

After your teeth have been cleaned and dried, the dentist will use one of two methods to apply the fluoride.

  1. Trays that are filled with a foam or gel fluoride treatment are inserted into the patient’s mouth and held there for a short period of time. This allows the patient’s teeth to soak in the fluoride formula so it can penetrate the deeper layers of the enamel. 
  2. Application of fluoride varnish or gel that is directly applied to the patient’s teeth, which is painted onto the tooth enamel with a brush or cotton swab.  This can take anywhere from one to four minutes, but an assistant will likely help make sure you don’t swallow the formula.

After the treatment, you’ll be asked not to eat or drink anything–even water–for at least 30 minutes to allow the fluoride to absorb into your teeth and remineralize as much of the enamel as possible. 

Depending on your individual situation, you may need follow-up treatment. This can vary from three, six, or 12 months. Your dentist might also recommend using fluoride at home with your routine oral care plan.

Fluoride Treatment From Bright Now! Dental

Fluoride treatment is a fast, effective, and affordable way to preserve your smile, especially when used in conjunction with other preventative services from Bright Now! Dental like routine checkups and cleanings. You can receive fluoride treatment at any one of our convenient locations, whether in combination with other general dental services at your next teeth cleaning or oral exam or as a separate appointment. Find the Bright Now! Dental office nearest you and schedule an appointment today to take care of your smile for tomorrow!