When you get your teeth cleaned every six months, do you also make sure to get your fluoride treatment? Fluoride is an important part of dental hygiene; it hardens your enamel so it’s harder for bacteria in your mouth to form cavities.
At our office, we use a fluoride varnish that gets brushed on your teeth. The varnish uses your saliva to get in-between the cracks of your teeth and acts as a barrier to help prevent cavities for six months or longer. Fluoride helps to restore the hardness of your teeth and prevents them from going back to the unprotected state that they were in before your treatment. So don’t think of fluoride as something that is just good for one day, it has lasting benefits for both adults and children and is much less expensive than cavities that may form if your teeth are left unprotected.
Fluoride is especially important if you are considered to be at risk for decay. People included in the risk category are those with decay at each dental visit, periodontal infection, recession of the gum lines and those that drink sugary drinks such as pop and juice. Patients who do not practice good home care such as brushing twice a day and flossing at least once at night should also consider fluoride.
I often get asked, “Can I eat and drink anything I want after fluoride?” The answer is yes and no. You can eat and drink right after fluoride treatments; you just need to make sure that you avoid hot liquids like soup, coffee or hot cocoa and stay away from crunchy foods like nuts, chips, and taco shells that might scrape off the fluoride. The “optimal” fluoride treatment is left on for 4-6 hours and so if you have a cleaning appointment that is later in the day, I even recommend that patients skip brushing that night so the fluoride has more time to work on your teeth. So kids, it’s the one night that it’s ok to not brush your teeth!
It’s also important to think about fluoride in-between your dental cleanings. City water contains fluoride; just don’t let it replace the treatment we can give you in the office. You should also use toothpaste that contains fluoride and make sure that when you are done brushing your teeth that you don’t rinse your mouth out with water. Leaving the toothpaste on your teeth after brushing is like giving yourself a mini fluoride treatment. If you live on a farm and your water comes from a well, you might want to consider purchasing fluorinated water or getting prescription fluoride drops that can be added to your water to help protect your teeth. ACT also makes a fluoride rinse that can be used daily and it comes in many different flavors for adults and kids.
If you find that you or your children continue to get cavities when they come in for dental check-ups, you may want to consider fluoride treatments. If you are getting fluoride and you are still having problems with decay, try some of my other suggestions like drops or rinse between your visits to help protect your teeth from bacteria and to help you stay cavity free!
Elaine Vogel, RDH