Pain-Free Cavity Prevention with Fluoride
If the thought of needles and drills makes you dread the dentist, it’s worth learning about how to prevent cavities before they start. Preventative care includes regular brushing and flossing, rinsing after meals, and dentist recommended fluoride care.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found in soil, water, and some foods. It improves oral health by making teeth more resistant to decay. Cavities are caused by acid-producing bacteria that collect around the teeth and gums to form plaque. Fluoride works by strengthening the enamel to help fight bacteria. It also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth, and helps to draw calcium and phosphate from saliva to enhance the natural healing process of your teeth.
Where to Get Fluoride and How Much Do You Need?
Fluoride is often added to drinking water to help protect all members of the community from tooth decay. The downside of fluorinated water is that it is more difficult to control the dose since water consumption varies depending on the individual. Fluoridised water is regulated by best practices and is generally in low enough concentrations to avoid concern, no matter how much water you drink.
The main risk with over fluorination is dental fluorosis, which is identified by small marks on the teeth. Dental fluorosis tends to occur in children and is generally not an issue for adults. To determine the best level of fluoride treatment for your teeth, it is best to speak to your family dentist about professional and at home treatments in addition to fluorinated water.
Professional fluoride treatment in the dental office takes only a few minutes and contains a stronger concentration of fluoride than fluorinated toothpastes or mouth rinses that are available in a stores. The use of fluoridated rinses or self applied fluoride gels is recommended for patients at higher risk of developing cavities, but should only be used when recommended by your dentist or hygienist.
Fluoride Use for Seniors
Cavity prevention in seniors is of particular interest now that teeth are being retained for longer and since many seniors are taking medications that cause dry mouth and put them at higher risk for developing cavities. Seniors are advised to visit the dentist once every six months and to discuss a customized treatment plan to best suit their needs.
Fluoride Use for Children
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that children under three generally do not require fluoride unless they are identified as being at high risk of tooth decay. For children over three years of age, a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended. Parents should supervise to ensure that the fluorinated toothpaste is not swallowed, that an appropriate amount is used, and that the teeth are cleaned thoroughly.
If you have any questions about the use of at home or professional fluoride treatment, speak to your dentist for personalised recommendations.