PATIENT EDUCATION – FLUORIDE TREATMENTS
Fluoride treatments are another option that you may wish to explore if you are interested in preventative treatments. Many people who are dental phobic choose to delay going to the dentist because they are very nervous of hearing bad news about their teeth (and the future treatment they may require). Preventative treatments like fluoride or dental sealants can therefore give people who suffer from phobias more confidence. If they can visit their dentist more regularly for check-ups, they can usually ensure that their teeth remain healthier than if their visits were few and far between.
This article answers a few of the most common questions about fluoride treatment. However, it is by no means exhaustive and fluoride is one of the more complex subjects within dental health. If you’d like to know more, talk to your dentist.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride occurs naturally is many foods and often in water. It helps to strengthen tooth enamel and therefore makes your teeth less vulnerable to plaque build-up. In some countries (including the UK) fluoride is added to the water supply to ensure that everyone has healthier teeth. Most toothpaste will also contain fluoride.
What is fluoride treatment?
If your dentist thinks that your teeth are not healthy enough to withstand the attack of plaque and tartar, he or she may recommend fluoride supplements. Fluoride supplements can be taken by both children and adults, although they are usually only taken on the specific advice of the dentist. Most of us have all the fluoride we require through our natural diet.
Why are some people more likely to need fluoride?
Many dentists recommend that children take fluoride supplements until they are 16, as this is the time when they are most susceptible to tooth decay. In adults, there are a number of conditions which can require fluoride supplements. Dry mouth conditions and gum disease such as gingivitis increase the chances of tooth decay in adults. Alternatively, your dentist may simply recommend fluoride treatments if you have had significant dental work, such as orthodontic work, which may have increase the risk to the remaining natural teeth.
What does the treatment involve?
The fluoride treatment from your dentist is more concentrated than the fluoride in your toothpaste, for example. However, it is a very straightforward and pain-free dental treatment. The fluoride is usually applied as a gel or solution and only takes a few minutes. It may take another half an hour after the treatment for your tooth enamel to absorb the fluoride, during which time you will probably have to refrain from eating or drinking.
Is fluoride safe?
This is the main reason why fluoride can be such a controversial and complex subject. There is no doubt that fluoride is essentially for us if we want to maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, there are people who claim that fluoride in our water supply causes is unnecessary and that it can cause harm. The most recent research has failed to find any significant evidence to show that fluoride in our water supply is harmful.