By: Dr. Ali Jones
Most patients know that it is routine for kids to get a fluoride treatment at each routine dental visit. However, did you know that you never "outgrow" the need to keep your teeth strong and healthy and help prevent tooth decay?
Even though insurance companies often don't cover fluoride treatment past the age of 14-16, that does not mean that you no longer need it and you're suddenly immune to getting cavities. In fact, it is quite the opposite! We tend to see lots of new cavities form in teenagers and college students due to diet and busy routines that often mean they may forget to brush and floss. For adults and seniors, we see more gum recession exposing the softer roots of teeth which are also a high risk for decay. Patients get more dry mouth (side effect of medications often the biggest reason) as they get older which also means higher risk for cavities forming because the protective saliva is not there to rinse away bacteria and keep the mouth at a neutral pH.
It is always better to be proactive and protect our teeth, rather than fighting the battle of tooth decay with costly, time consuming restorative procedures. Fluoride is a naturally occuring element that makes our teeth stronger and more resistant to decay, wear, acid erosion and sensitivity. It is easy, safe, effective and also inexpensive! Getting a fluoride treatment at every dental visit is a very affordable way to protect teeth...especially compared to the cost of fillings, crowns, root canals, bridges, implants and dentures.
You may remember having to swish a fluoride rinse for 30 seconds or a minute, or even having big foam trays filled with gel or foamy fluoride in your mouth for 1-4 minutes when you were younger. But, now, we use something called a fluoride "varnish." It is SO much easier than the old way of applying a fluoride application to teeth! It's a highly concentrated form of fluoride that gets "painted" on to the tooth surfaces (takes 30-60 seconds to apply) and sticks on for about 4-6 hours. When you brush your teeth later, it brushes off. You can eat and drink normally while it's on your teeth.
You might wonder if you still need a fluoride treatment if you have crowns, bridges and other dental work. YES! You are also susceptible to tooth decay around and under your dental work. The fluoride will help protect your natural tooth structure that is under and around your fillings and crowns so you can keep your dental work and teeth healthy. It is also helpful if you have sensitive teeth! The fluoride makes the surfaces of your teeth more mineralized, or harder and more resistant to hot, cold, sweets and the elements that cause sensitivity, weaken and break down tooth structure.
So, when Dr. Jones and Courtney offer you a fluoride varnish treatment....say yes, I want to protect my teeth for life!
If you have any more questions or concerns about fluoride, ask us at your next appointment!
Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist