Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water. Every day a tooth’s enamel layer loses and gains minerals. When acid attacks the enamel, the tooth loses minerals. Bacteria and sugars in the mouth form a sticky plaque on the teeth. Plaque creates the acid that erodes the tooth and gum tissues. Once the enamel layer is damaged, the bacteria can infect and harm the roots, nerves, and blood at the core of the tooth.
Just like we can lose minerals in our teeth, we can also gain minerals. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate return to the enamel layer from the foods we consume and the water we drink. When we lose too many minerals and do not gain enough back, it can cause tooth decay.
We often think of children when we consider fluoride treatment. It is true that fluoride has benefits to young children. It is built in and strengthens teeth as the permanent teeth are forming. However, throughout our lives our teeth inevitably take a lot of wear and tear. It’s inevitable that we will damage our teeth, no matter how good our personal dental hygiene is. Teeth get chipped, braces leave gaps, and all that coffee, wine, and sweet desserts will weaken the enamel defenses. When we need crowns, bridges, or partials, we are adding more damage to our teeth. We need to take steps such as fluoride treatments to keep our teeth healthy.
- Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. The mineral has an extra electron which helps it to bond to the calcium in your teeth and strengthen the enamel. This makes teeth more resistant to acids and bacteria in the mouth. Fluoride can even reverse tooth decay.
- Fluoride can be beneficial to those with dry mouth conditions. Individuals with dry mouth lack the saliva to help wash away food particles in the mouth. Saliva also helps neutralize the harmful acids in foods. For these people, fluoride is even more beneficial to help strengthen the teeth and protect them.
- Root decay is another big problem for adults. This can undermine the tooth. It can cause chronic pain and permanent tooth damage. Treatment is an expensive root canal. Fluoride can help prevent and even reverse this decay and protect your teeth.
- Periodontal patients with gum disease benefit from fluoride as well. Gum disease causes the gums to recede. This exposes more of your tooth and its roots to the acids and bacteria in your mouth. Fluoride can help protect these exposed areas.
- How is that flossing coming along? You know you should floss daily, but do you? If your oral hygiene is not ideal, fluoride could be just the thing to keep your neglect from leading to cavities between your teeth.
- Fluoride can also help with the growing problem of sensitive teeth. Diets high in acidic foods and beverages, general gum recession, and increased use of whitening products all tend to produce sensitive teeth. Fluoride treatments re-mineralize tooth enamel and reduce that sensitivity.
- Patients who undergo radiation treatment for cancer also benefit from topical fluoride applications. Radiation damages saliva glands, thus greatly reducing the flow of saliva. Saliva acts as a buffer against the foods we eat and beverages we drink. Once again, less saliva greatly increases the risk of cavities.
- If you have frequent cavities you could benefit from additional fluoride treatments. More than one cavity every 2 years is considered frequent cavities. Some people are simply more prone to cavities than others.
- Those with dental appliances also benefit from fluoride. If you have a lot of appliances, you may think that you do not have enough teeth to worry about fluoride. The truth is these fewer teeth are valuable and need maximum protection! Wherever a crown, bridge, or partial touches your teeth, there is increased risk for decay at the transition.
Even as adults it is important to see our dentist and receive fluoride treatments. Professional cleanings and regular examinations can identify problems early and avoid larger problems from developing. At Danville Family Dentistry we will help you take the best care of your loved one’s oral health. Contact us today!
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.