Many people think that fluoride is just for children. The source of this misconception is likely the fact that dental insurance benefits typically only pay for fluoride treatments for children up to a certain age. This misleads many to believe that fluoride only has benefits for children, and this is far from the truth.
In many ways, fluoride is far more beneficial to adults than to children. We will describe how this is true in this article.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral in the ground in many places around the world. This means that it also naturally occurs in many sources of drinking water.
Fluoride can be incorporated into the hard mineral matrix of a tooth, creating enamel and dentin (the layer of tooth structure beneath the enamel) that is stronger and resistant to the various stresses of the oral environment.
What is a Professional Fluoride Treatment?
A professional fluoride treatment is one that your dentist or dental hygienist applies to the teeth during one of your dental visits. The fluoride may come in the form of a gel, foam, or sticky coating called a varnish. The varnish is the most recently developed and provides the longest supply of fluoride to the teeth.
Professional fluoride treatments are high in concentration, providing a large number of fluoride minerals to the teeth in a short time. This is in contrast to over-the-counter options, like fluoride mouth rinse or toothpaste, which apply small concentrations of fluoride to the teeth daily.
What Benefits Does a Professional Fluoride Treatment Provide for Oral Health?
Fluoride, when absorbed by a tooth, improves the tooth’s hardness and strength. It can resist the attacks of acid from the bacteria in dental plaque or sources of acid in our diet (acidic foods and beverages). Fluoride can even re-strengthen enamel that has already been damaged by acid in a process called remineralization.
By strengthening and hardening tooth enamel and dentin, fluoride provides several great advantages to the teeth. It lowers the risk for cavities and even reverses cavities in their earliest stages.
Fluoride also reduces symptoms of sensitive teeth through the remineralization process. Many people who experience tooth sensitivity receive professional fluoride treatments at every dental visit.
Because fluoride strengthens both enamel and dentin, it helps many adults fight the root cavities and tooth sensitivity caused by receding gums. The roots of teeth do not have a protective enamel coating, and when recession exposes them, they have a higher risk for cavities and sensitivity. Fluoride helps fight both.
Who Should Consider Professional Fluoride Treatments?
There are several categories of dental patients who benefit greatly from professional fluoride treatments. These treatments are wonderful for small children who haven’t yet mastered good oral hygiene techniques, and they are an important preventive dental treatment for any adults in the following categories.
High Cavity Risk
How do you know if you have a high cavity risk? Anyone who has had a new cavity form in the last year falls into the category of high risk. Also, those who have multiple dental restorations are likely to have a higher risk for cavities. Some patients with medical conditions that require breathing treatments, like cystic fibrosis, or medications that lead to a dry mouth, also have a high risk for cavities. Your dentist will inform you of your specific risk level and work with you to find preventive treatments that lower that risk.
Because fluoride leaves enamel stronger and more resistant to acid attacks by the bacteria living in dental plaque, cavity risk goes down with consistent fluoride treatments.
When gums recede, they expose the delicate roots of our teeth, which don’t have enamel. Dentin is much softer and more porous than enamel, so the exposed roots are more likely to be sensitive or suffer from decay. Professional fluoride treatments can help you maintain strong, healthy roots.
It should not hurt to drink ice water. If it does, and you have ruled out any major dental disease through an evaluation by your dentist, you can assume you have sensitive teeth. Some people have teeth so sensitive that dental cleanings are painful. You can mitigate the pain of sensitive teeth by undergoing consistent professional fluoride treatments. Fluoride helps to block some of the pores that allow the cold sensation to reach the nerves inside the teeth. Many people find a noticeable improvement in their sensitivity after undergoing fluoride applications regularly.
More Questions about Professional Fluoride Treatments? Call Rockland Dental Today!
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today at (845)-259-2500 or contact us and schedule a consultation with one of our dental experts today. We believe that many people can benefit from professional fluoride treatments, and we would love to help you strengthen your teeth, fight decay and sensitivity, and make your dental cleanings more comfortable. Ask us about fluoride at your next visit.