One of the best ways to keep your smile in good condition is through regular fluoride treatment. Here at Providence Smiles, we recommend fluoride treatment as a way to strengthen your teeth and help your smile fight off infection or decay. If you would like to learn more about fluoride treatment in Hillsborough, North Carolina, please call our team at 919-732-8179 and set up a visit with our dentist, Dr. Kwame Gyampo.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been found to be extremely helpful in dental contexts, as it works to remineralize tooth enamel that has been affected by the harmful bacteria, sugars and acids in your food and drink. Fluoride can also strengthen tooth structure as it develops, which makes it a common treatment for children whose teeth are still growing in. Since fluoride can be found in water and many foods, many patients receive a steady input of fluoride every day, especially if they are using the recommended fluoridated toothpaste. If a patient would like to take extra measures to protect their smile and strengthen their teeth and are not already receiving the recommended intake of fluoride from their environment, we may recommend a fluoride treatment.

How Does Fluoride Treatment Help?

Every day, the enamel of our teeth loses minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, making the tooth weaker. Unwanted bacteria and acid in your food and drink can also cause the enamel to erode. Fluoride helps your teeth by remineralize, slowing or stopping decay in its tracks. In some cases, fluoride can even reverse the affects of mild tooth decay.

What Can I Expect During My Fluoride Treatment?

Fluoride is absorbed either systematically, through the foods you eat and drink, or topically, through the toothpaste you use or fluoride treatments you receive at our office. Fluoride treatments are quick and simple and can be completed as part of your regular dental check-in with our team. Professional dental fluoride can be applied as a gel, varnish or foam depending on your preference. The fluoride is typically applied with a swab or brush after your teeth have already been cleaned by our team. After treatment, we recommend avoiding food for at least a half hour to allow the fluoride to be absorbed.

How Often Should I Get Fluoride Treatment?

Depending on the condition of your smile and your preexisting fluoride intake, the American Dental Association® recommends receiving an in-office fluoride treatment once every three, six or 12 months.

Should Children Get Fluoride Treatments?

Yes. In fact, fluoride treatments are especially helpful to children, who are prone to cavities and whose teeth are still growing, but they should only be applied once the child is at least three years old. Adults can also benefit greatly from regular fluoride treatments, especially if they experience any of the following:

  • Dry mouth — Saliva is an important tool that your mouth uses to keep itself clean and prevent bacteria growth. It also contains fluoride. Patients with low saliva levels are at increased risk of cavities and can benefit from additional protection.
  • Dental restorations — Restorations, such as crowns, veneers, bridges or orthodontic appliances, can sometimes catch and hold food particles, making your smile more vulnerable to harmful bacteria and warranting the extra protection of fluoride treatments.
  • Periodontal disease — If you suffer from periodontal disease, you are likely already more susceptible to tooth decay than the average person. Gum disease specifically can cause receding gums, exposing more of your smile to bacterial attacks.
  • Radiation therapy — Radiation therapies often cause dry mouth and increase your risk of dental decay and demineralization. Fluoride treatments can address these unwanted side effects and keep you smile safe throughout your radiation treatment.

What Is Fluorosis?

An overdose of fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, which can manifest in a number of symptoms. These include:

  • Tooth discoloration — Fluorosis is visible as white specks, and in severe cases, staining or pitting on the teeth.
  • Interrupted bone homeostasis — Bone homeostasis is the natural process of remodeling bone tissue to maintain the shape and structure of your bone. It can be negatively affected by a fluoride overdose.
  • Brittle bones — Fluorosis can cause dense, but brittle, bones.
  • Skin irritation — Too much fluoride can cause allergic reactions or skin irritation.
  • Nausea or illness — A sever overdose, known as acute toxicity, can result in diarrhea, nausea, swelling and fatigue.

If you are considering a fluoride treatment, it is important to discuss with our dentist what fluoride products you are already using to help us prevent an overdose. It is entirely possible that you are already receiving the optimal amount of fluoride in your regular diet and hygiene routine.

To learn more about fluoride treatments and whether they are right for your smile, call or visit our office today.