Fluoride. Where do I begin?
Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in many foods and water sources. It is well documented that fluoride aids in strengthening your teeth, cutting sensitivity, and making your teeth less susceptible to acids and decay. Some studies have shown stannous fluoride’s benefit in preventing gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). You come see me to evaluate your dental health, and I will make a recommendation for fluoride if I see certain risk factors. Children after the age of 6 should really have a professional fluoride application at their dental cleaning appointments, as their hygiene habits are not the most effective or meticulous yet, and fluoride after a certain age helps play a role in healthy tooth development. Adults with forms of gum disease, a history of decay, findings of new decay, a lot of past dental work, sensitivity, gum recession, dry mouth symptoms, evidence of grinding, underformed enamel, or who are about to whiten their teeth, all benefit immensely from fluoride, and I am happy to explain why these specific conditions are indications for fluoride supplementation should you have questions about your individual recommendation.
Fluoride helps strengthen teeth by either becoming incorporated into the developing tooth or protecting it at the surface. It also prevents the acid that is produced by bacteria in dental plaque from dissolving, or softening, the tooth – leaving it more susceptible to dental disease. Fluoride cannot fix cavities, but it can arrest small ones, prevent future ones, and resolve sensitivity. It is more of a preventative procedure than a corrective one. The best way to avoid a cavity is to practice preventative measures! I had a mentor who used to say, “Conviction with restriction! Do more by cutting less!” I would much rather help you prevent dental problems than let one little dental problem turn into a lifetime of maintenance. If we can avoid drilling on your pretty tooth, let’s do it!
Many are concerned about fluoride because of the bad rap it has seen over the years. Fluoride is available in mouth rinses and toothpastes, and at the dental office in stronger concentrations. When you were younger, if you were exposed to too much fluoride in your water, a white banding effect is seen on the adult teeth. Fluoride is potentially hazardous at high doses, where it is considered toxic, but at .05-1.1% these amounts are not hurting anyone and have been deemed safe and effective. At Katy Trail Dental, we use fluoride varnish because it is painted on the teeth – so it stays where we want it – and it has been shown to be more effective than the alternatives. We also have a toothpaste for patients who are very cavity prone or suffer from dry mouth symptoms that is at the 1.1% concentration. This is less than .1g when you do the math. It will be okay; let’s keep your pearly whites healthy and if you do have a concern about fluoride, feel free to let us know! We understand there is an overwhelming amount of information out there!