Using Fluoride to Protect your Teeth
You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and visit the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating your teeth and preventing plaque from building-up and hardening on the tooth's surface.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, topical and systemic:
- Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth and includes toothpastes and mouth rinses.
- Systemic fluorides are generally only used by your dentist and are not often available for at-home use. Systemic fluoride treatments are generally designed to help protect the oral health of children undergoing dental procedures. Fluoride used in the dentist/orthodontists office is often a much stronger concentration than in toothpaste or mouthwash, but is available at some drug stores or a pharmacy (ask your dentist before purchasing professional strength fluoride). Fluoride consumed while the teeth are forming also makes the teeth much more resistant to decay. Some puble water supplies have optimum fluoride levels. If you use well water or live in an area that does not have fluoridated water speak to your pediatric dentist about giving your children fluoride pills or drops. This is like taking children's vitamins for your teeth.
Receiving a fluoride treatment from your dentist
A fluoride treatment in your dentist's office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked to not rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor's recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe an at home fluoride product such as mouthwash, gels, or an antibacterial rinse.
How to choose the right fluoride treatment
When choosing your own at home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined by the ADA and approved based on safety and effectiveness.