In the last 50 years or so, modern dentistry has shifted from treating problems to preventing them. At Appletree Cove Dental Center, we offer preventive services to keep you and your family's oral health in pristine condition. One of these services, fluoride treatment, is an important part of any child's tooth development.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral usually found in water and certain foods. It is also one of the minerals that make up our enamel, the hard outer layer of a tooth. Every day, our enamel undergoes the processes of demineralization and remineralization. During demineralization, our enamel is weakened by the acid-producing bacteria found in plaque.
During remineralization minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are redeposited to the enamel from certain foods and waters we consume. Unfortunately, the rate or demineralization often exceeds that of remineralization, resulting in tooth decay and cavities. Fluoride treatment supplements the process of remineralization, which strengthens the enamel layer and prevents tooth decay. Fluoride can even reverse minor instances of decay.
Who Needs Fluoride Treatment?
Dr. Mellissa Ilgen may recommend fluoride treatment if you, or a family member, are at a greater risk of developing dental caries (tooth decay). Fluoride treatment is more common for children because tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States.
Untreated tooth decay can result in greater complications later down the line. Luckily, professional fluoride treatment can prevent about one-third of the decay in primary (baby) teeth. These teeth are a crucial part of a child's tooth development. If a primary tooth is lost prematurely due to tooth decay, it may lead to eruption issues with the permanent teeth.
New studies have shown that adults can also benefit from fluoride treatment. Older adults are at a higher risk for developing dental caries. Luckily, topical fluorides like toothpaste, mouth rinses, and professional treatments help fight decay at any age. Your fluoride treatment will be based on your particular needs.
Fluoride Treatment Procedure
Fluoride treatment is usually performed as a part of a routine checkup and professional cleaning. During the procedure, Dr. Mellissa Ilgen will apply the fluoride directly to the enamel. The fluoride may be in the form of a gel, foam, varnish, or solution. We will apply the fluoride with a brush, cotton swab, or tray depending on the form. After a few minutes or so, the treatment is over. We ask that you not rinse, eat, or drink anything for at least 30 minutes. This allows the enamel to properly absorb the fluoride and repair microscopic decay.
Fluoride treatment may be recommended every three, six, or 12 months depending on you or your family's oral health. We may also recommend other preventative services like dental sealants if your child is at a greater risk for decay. Fluoride supplements are also useful in combating tooth decay, especially if you are not exposed to fluoridated water. The supplement will strengthen the tooth from within.
Schedule an Appointment
If you would like to schedule an appointment for you or your family, please call 360-297-3392 now!