Tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria that collect on your teeth and gums as a sticky, clear film called plaque. Without good daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits, your teeth become vulnerable to decay and cavities. Brushing and flossing twice a day will remove the plaque that leads to decay.
To ensure your teeth and gums remain in good health, you also need regular dental examinations and cleanings. During your twice-yearly dental cleanings, you should also consider a professional fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent decay and can repair your teeth when they are in the very earliest stages of decay.
Types of Fluoride
There are two types of fluoride: topical and systemic. Topical fluorides are applied directly to your tooth enamel. You’re probably familiar with fluoride-based toothpaste and mouthwashes that you purchase at a retail store. Systemic fluorides are swallowed in the water you drink or as a dietary supplement. For maximum effectiveness, fluoride should be delivered both topically and systemically.
Professional Fluoride Treatments
If you or a loved one is at risk for tooth decay, you should consider a professional fluoride treatment. The fluoride we use in our dental office is much stronger than store-bought toothpaste or mouthwashes. The fluoride we use can be a gel, foam, varnish or oral rinse. It will either be applied with a cotton swab, swished in the mouth or put in a tray that’s held in your mouth for several minutes.
Following treatment, you won’t be able to eat or drink for 30 minutes so your teeth can soak up the fluoride. The treatments only take a few minutes to complete, and depending on your situation, we may advise you to repeat fluoride treatments every three, six or 12 months. If you’re at particularly high risk for decay, we also recommend you include over-the-counter or prescription fluoride mouth rinses or gels in your oral care routine.
Who Should Have Professional Fluoride Treatments?
Patients who are at risk of developing decay should seriously consider having professional fluoride treatments. Risk factors for decay include:
- Poor oral hygiene or lack of regular dental care
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Active orthodontic treatment combined with poor oral hygiene
- High levels of bacteria in the mouth
- Exposed roots
- Dry mouth caused by decreased salivary flow
- Poor diet
- Extensive fillings
- Tooth enamel defects
- Head and/or neck radiation therapy
Want to learn more about how Klement Family Dental can prevent tooth decay and cavities? Read about our preventative services or call our office for an appointment.