What Is Fluoride Therapy?
Your teeth are under constant attack. Every single day, all day long, crucial minerals are lost from the protective enamel layer on your teeth. This loss, called demineralization, occurs when sugars and plaque bacteria in your mouth combine to form acids that attack and weaken tooth enamel, leaving you more susceptible to tooth decay and oral sensitivity.
To combat this normal process, important minerals contained in the food and water you eat are redeposited on the enamel layer. Naturally occurring minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate remineralize your enamel to maintain healthy teeth and gums. This cycle repeats multiple times every day; keeping mineral loss and mineral replacement in balance is key to healthy teeth.
Fluoride is an important tool for keeping the balance in favor of health; regular fluoride therapy helps speed up the remineralization process and disrupts acid production, making your teeth less vulnerable to decay and sensitivity.
What Is Fluoride and How Does it Work?
Fluoride comes from fluorine, which is a mineral found in abundance throughout the earth's crust and in other aspects of nature. Many foods and water supplies contain natural amounts of fluoride. Fluoride is an additive in toothpastes and mouth washes and is an important medicine prescribed for improving oral health.
In appropriate amounts, fluoride is completely safe and constitutes an important nutritional component of maintaining a healthy smile. In fact, the World Health Organization lists sodium fluoride on their List of Essential Medicines, a comprehensive review of the most effective and safe medicines needed for an effective health system. Healthy teeth and gums are critical to maintaining good overall health, and fluoride is critical to maintaining a healthy mouth.
So, how does fluoride work? Fluoride improves oral health in the following three ways:
1. In young children, fluoride physically changes the structure of developing enamel and makes it more resistant to acid attack.
2. In all patients, when fluoride is present during remineralization, the fluoride minerals deposited are harder than existing molecules, helping to strengthen the enamel and slow or actually prevent enamel dissolution during the next demineralization cycle.
3. Fluoride inhibits the ability of bacteria in plaque to produce acid.
Regular use of fluoride should be an integral part of your oral health regimen.
Do You Need Fluoride Therapy?
Fluoride therapy refers to the use of fluoride for medical purposes. In our offices, we use a number of different fluoride therapies to help our patients, including the following:
· Topical treatments applied during routine exams
· Ingestible fluoride supplements in pills or drops
· Prescription-strength toothpastes and mouth washes
· At-home topical gels
While these types of fluoride therapies are beneficial for all patients, they are especially valuable to the following dental patients:
· Children who are still developing their primary and adult teeth. We don’t have fluoridate water here in Fairbanks; fluoride supplements are essential to getting adequate fluoride.
· Patients with sensitive teeth. Topical fluoride treatments during regular checkups can ameliorate minor sensitivity issues.
· Patients who are having teeth-whitening treatments. Topical fluoride therapy helps avoid dental sensitivity resulting from teeth whitening.
· Adults, teens, or kids who experience frequent tooth decay. Anyone experiencing regular issues with tooth decay should receive topical fluoride therapy to improve their oral health.
Take Care of Your Teeth with Fluoride Therapy
Taking care of your health means taking care of your mouth. At North Pole Dental Workshop, we recommend all our patients receive topical fluoride treatments at their regular biennial checkups. Fluoride treatments are an important component of effective dental care. Call today to schedule a consultation with our Alaska dental arts professionals at North Pole Dental Workshop.