The protective covering of our teeth, the enamel, can be worn down by bacteria if we don’t take proper care of our teeth. It can lead to tooth decay and other ailments. Fluoride therapy is recommended by dentists in order to protect and strengthen the enamel and prevent cavities.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is an inorganic mineral which is normally present in traceable amounts in water. It is very useful in replacing the minerals lost from the enamel of the teeth. It also makes the tooth more resistant to acid.
What is Fluoride Therapy?
Fluoride therapy is the use of fluoride to help protect teeth from decay. Although, too much fluoride should not be used as it is harmful and may lead to fluorosis. Recent studies have found out that water fluoridation can reduce permanent tooth decay in adults by as much as 35%.. Most studies in the last 60 years point out that fluoridation of the water supply can help prevent tooth decay.
There are various ways in which fluoride therapy is implemented.
It involves adding approved and optimum amounts of fluoride to the supply of public drinking water in the interest of oral health. It is the most effective public measure to prevent tooth decay among both children and adults.
Water fluoridation is approved by the American Dental Association and the World Health Organization. 43 of the large US cities receive adequate amounts of fluoride from their water supplies.
Using Toothpaste and Mouth Rinses containing Fluoride
Most toothpastes contain 0.22%-0.312% of fluoride. Using this toothpaste to brush twice a day can enhance the enamel. Only a small dab of toothpaste is enough to be effective.
Mouth rinses commonly contain fluoride in the form of sodium fluoride. If the mouth rinse contains a high concentration of fluoride, a doctor’s prescription is usually required to buy it. Mouth rinses should not normally be used by children as they have a higher risk of swallowing it.
This is most common in cases where drinking water does not contain much fluoride. A doctor should always be consulted, and supplements should be taken only as advised in the prescription. Special care should be taken especially in the case of children to prevent overdose.
Varnishes and Gels
These are the methods commonly used by dentists to provide fluoride therapy. Varnishes, as the names suggest, involve painting a previously determined concentration of salt directly onto the surface of the teeth. In the case of gels, a mouth tray is put over the teeth and left there for some time to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride present in the gel. Ideally, a person should not rinse, eat, drink or smoke for at least half an hour after application.
Fluoride therapy is essential for growing children, especially when their permanent teeth are starting to grow. It is also important for adults and helps to maintain healthy teeth and a sparkling smile!