Do you or your child have teeth that seem prone to cavities? Are your teeth sensitive to cold and hot temperatures? Have you been told in the past that your tooth enamel–the hard, protective layer that covers your teeth–is weak in some areas? If you can attest to any of these circumstances, we encourage you to not delay seeking oral care solutions for your smile. While there are many types of dental restorations to repair tooth decay, there is no replacement for your natural tooth enamel.
The aforementioned conditions often stem from a lack of tooth enamel resulting from a harsh diet, inconsistent oral care or a genetic disposition for a thin tooth enamel layer. This protective casing is vital to the health of your teeth because it creates a barrier between bacteria and the vulnerable tooth nerves, blood vessels and roots that enable your teeth to function. When your tooth enamel is in jeopardy, fluoride typically is the most effective solution for your smile. We invite you to learn more about the amazing benefits of fluoride and fluoride treatment.
Your teeth undergo a daily cycle of demineralization and remineralization at a microscopic level, but the results from this routine cycle are anything but microscopic. The acids produced by bacterial plaque strip the teeth of their minerals, and your saliva, combined with nutrients from healthy food, works to restore these minerals and keep the teeth fortified against plaque and acid. If your teeth lose more minerals than they gain, the tooth enamel can become porous and soft, allowing bacteria to penetrate deeply into the teeth and form cavities over time. Many patients also develop tooth sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet foods as their tooth enamel is worn away. Other signs of tooth enamel erosion include:
– Tooth discoloration as a result of the yellow underlayer of dentin showing through the tooth enamel
– Round teeth as the edges are worn away
– Transparent tooth edges, especially in the front teeth
– Tiny cracks appearing in the surface of the teeth
This process can be quickened if you frequently consume acidic beverages such as soda and lemonade that erode the tooth enamel. While brushing and flossing your teeth and rinsing with mouthwash help remove harmful plaque and acid from your teeth, they can’t repair the tooth enamel itself unless they contain fluoride.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in water, soil and rocks. However, fluoride doesn’t simply exist on its own. It is a chemical ion of the element fluorine, which is one of the most common elements in the earth’s crust. When the negatively charged fluorine comes into contact with a positively charged ion (such as sodium), it results in the fluoride compound. The natural origin of fluoride has earned it the nickname “nature’s cavity fighter.”
When introduced to your mouth, fluoride combines with the calcium and phosphate that make up your tooth enamel to create a very strong defense against bacteria. Even before your teeth erupt through the gums, fluoride from foods such as seafood, tea, walnuts, and grape products help to strengthen the tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. This is known as a “systemic” benefit of fluoride. Following the eruption of the teeth, a continued exposure to fluoride reverses early signs of cavities and repairs weakened areas of tooth enamel by remineralizing the teeth.
You can receive fluoride systemically or topically. Systemic fluoride exposure comes from drinking fluoridated water, eating foods that contain fluoride or taking a supplement. Ingesting fluoride allows it to saturate your saliva and constantly bathe your teeth with miniscule levels of fluoride that repair the tooth enamel. Topical fluoride application occurs when you brush, floss, or rinse your teeth with a fluoridated dental product. You can find commercial toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride at your local grocery store or pharmacy.
When you visit for a dental checkup, you can receive professional fluoride treatment or a fluoride supplement. Professional fluoride treatment is available in the form of a varnish, gel or foam that a member of our team applies to your teeth after we have cleaned your smile. The fluoridated substance is left on your teeth for several minutes so that it can penetrate the tooth enamel, and then you can rinse it away. You may be instructed not to eat or drink for a certain time period following fluoride treatment to enable your teeth to take in as much fluoride as possible and optimize the results of your treatment.
If you live in an area that does not have access to fluoridated water, we may prescribe a fluoride supplement such as a tablet or lozenge. Fluoride supplements can be especially beneficial for children under the age of 16 who have a high risk of cavities. Additional supplementation can be provided in the form of a toothpaste or mouth rinse with a high fluoride concentration that you can use to clean your teeth at bedtime. While you sleep, the fluoride is able to soak into your teeth and improve the quality of your tooth enamel.
If your teeth have a high risk of cavities due to diet, poor oral hygiene or genetic factors, a regular fluoride application can be a vast improvement to your oral health. As previously mentioned, your tooth enamel cannot be replaced. If it is worn away completely, you may need to receive a dental filling, dental crown or other restorative treatment to replace the missing enamel and keep your inner tooth structure protected from harmful substances. We prefer to preserve your natural smile as much as possible, which is why we offer preventive fluoride treatment to keep your teeth in great shape.
To determine if you would benefit from fluoride treatment, you are welcome to schedule a consultation with Gentle Dental Arts by calling 801-788-4922 today. Our team here in Orem, Utah, is happy to serve as a reliable resource for you and your family, and we look forward to helping you enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles!