The Scoop About Fluoride From a Dentist

DentistAs a dentist office in Leawood, we use fluoride to help strengthen teeth. You may even see ads for toothpaste containing fluoride and wonder if it even works; let alone, how it works. Fluorine is a naturally occurring substance that is most commonly found in the air, food, and dirt. Now, fluoride is also found in public water throughout the country. Fluoride is easily absorbed by the body and the enamel (outer layer of the teeth). When your enamel absorbs the fluoride, it will strengthen your teeth and decrease your risk for cavities.

Why it works

In our dentist office, we also recommend using toothpaste that contains fluoride as a method of strengthening teeth in between dental visits. While this is not as effective as drinking it or having a professional treatment, it can be helpful in reducing the occurrence of cavities.

When absorbed by the enamel, fluoride helps to remineralize teeth. This is important because over time demineralization naturally occurs due to diet, oral hygiene, and age. As this happens, the hard enamel on the outside of the teeth becomes weaker, and the teeth can feel more sensitive. They can also become more susceptible to cavities.

By remineralizing and strengthening teeth, fluoride can reduce the risk for cavities. In fact, research has found that fluoride can reduce the effect of tooth decay and even reverse the damage before it reaches the point of becoming a traditional cavity. We find that this treatment is incredibly effective.

The application of fluoride

We typically recommend an annual fluoride treatment for children and teens. The fluoride comes in a simple varnish that is mostly odor and taste-free, making it an easy treatment option for children. We simply apply it to the teeth and leave it there for around four minutes. Once complete, the treatment will strengthen the teeth and reduce the risk of cavities.

Adults typically do not receive in-office fluoride treatments, and this is why drinking tap water and using a fluoride toothpaste is so important. In our dentist office, we have had many patients express that their teeth feel less sensitive after starting a regimen of brushing with this type of paste. Given how easy this is to do, there is no reason not to brush with a fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, there are mouth rinses that children can use at home.

In rare cases, if teeth are prone to cavities we may recommend a more aggressive at-home treatment. We can provide special trays so that you can apply a fluoride gel at home in order to help prevent cavities. Again, the trays are only in rare cases but we can discuss it with you during your dental exam. To find out how fluoride can help you, visit our Leawoodoffice for a teeth cleaning and exam today.

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What to do when visiting our office.

You should schedule a dental examination and teeth cleaning for twice a year.  This way, we can remove any plaque that has built up in between your teeth, in hard to reach places, and along your gums.  Even if you practice good, at-home care, it can be difficult to keep your teeth plaque-free.  The more frequently you visit our office, the less likely you are to get cavities since we can remove anything that you were unable to get at home. Doing so is also important for preventing gum disease.  If we notice that you have particularly deep ridges on the chewing surfaces of your teeth, we may recommend that you use dental sealant.  In this procedure, we apply a thin material to your chewing surfaces so that a barrier will exist.  This prevents food from becoming stuck and reduces the risk of you getting cavities in these particular spots.  We may also recommend a fluoride treatment.  While this is more common in children, adults can benefit from fluoride as well since it is a mineral that can strengthen the teeth, decreasing the risk of getting cavities by thirty percent or more. During these appointments, we will also let you know if you have any cavities that need to be treated.

What to do at home. 

In addition to visiting our office for preventative dental care, there are steps you can take to stay healthy at home.  We recommend that you start by making changes to your diet.  Eat food that is full of nutrients like crunchy veggies, green and leafy vegetables, lean protein, dairy and nuts.  These foods can remineralize and strengthen your teeth.  On the other hand, food that is high in sugar or starch can increase your risk of getting cavities because bacteria can grow in this environment, creating plaque as it does. You should also drink plenty of water since water can wash away loose food particles and sugar from your teeth while also keeping your mouth moist and breath fresh.

On a daily basis, be sure to brush your teeth two to three times with a soft or electronic toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.  Your toothbrush should be replaced every three months and you need to brush in a circular pattern starting at the gum line and moving towards the center of the mouth.  Be sure to also floss and get all the way down by your gums in order to decrease your chances of getting gum disease.

For more healthy tips, call our office at (913) 440-4199 and schedule an appointment for preventative dental care in Leawood.

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