Sometimes during a routine checkup and cleaning at the dentist you get something painted onto your teeth. It is applied with a tiny brush, and hardens as it comes into contact with your saliva. The whole process takes about two minutes. If you’ve ever wondered why this is done, this article is for you.
What Is It?
What you're thinking of is called a professional fluoride treatment. This varnish is used to help prevent tooth decay and cavities. Fluoride is a natural mineral that is proven to prevent tooth decay, which is why it’s in most toothpastes and tap water.
Why Use Fluoride?
Tooth decay and cavities are caused by the acids released when bacterial plaque in your mouth feasts upon the sugars you eat. These acids damage and dissolve the crystalline mineral structure of your enamel, the outer protective layer of your teeth. Fluoride helps to remineralize, fortify, and strengthen enamel, and also reduces the ability of bacteria to generate acids.
Who Can Benefit From Fluoride Treatments?
Fluoride varnish treatments are thought by many people to be primarily for children because they are so prone to getting cavities. However, recent studies have shown that many adults get cavities at a rate comparable to children. Therefore, virtually anyone could benefit from a fluoride treatment to help prevent tooth decay! If you have an oral history of a high cavity occurence or experience regular tooth sensitivity, we may recommend a fluoride varnish anywhere from once to a few times a year as a preventive treatment.
Is Fluoride Safe?
There have long been suspicions about the safety of fluoride, but decades of research indicate fluoride is safe at the current levels added to many water supplies and toothpastes. The only risk linked to excessive exposure to fluoride (usually by children swallowing their toothpaste) is a harmless cosmetic condition called fluorosis that can result in white spots or streaks on tooth enamel. When used in appropriate doses, fluoride has been deemed safe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Dental Association, the World Health Organization, and more than 100 other health organizations around the world.
Additional Questions? We Have Answers!
Our team here at Moores Chapel Dentistry will happily answer any questions you might have about fluoride and its benefits. And if you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Peng, don’t hesitate to contact us today!