Using Fluoride to Protect Your Teeth
You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and visit the dentist every six months, but did you know that using fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay in children and adults by strengthening your teeth and making them more resistant to acids from your diet and cavity-causing bacteria.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, systemic and topical:
- Systemic fluoride is ingested and is most effective in young children who begin forming their adult teeth before the age of 1 year. The ADA recommends supplementing with systemic fluoride between the ages of 6 months and 16 years when there is not fluoride in the water. Fairbanks water no longer contains fluoride, so we can recommend a dose of supplemental fluoride that is right for your child's size and age. While teeth are forming under the gums, the fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it stronger and more resistant to cavities for the life of the child.
- Fluoride can also be applied topically to help prevent caries (cavities) on teeth present in the mouth. It is delivered through toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride applications. Topical fluoride will help prevent cavities in teeth that are already in the mouth such as baby teeth in children and adults with permanent teeth.
Receiving a fluoride treatment from your dentist
A fluoride treatment in your dentist's office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor's recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as a mouthwash, toothpaste, or antibacterial rinse.
How to choose the right fluoride treatment
When choosing your own at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined by the ADA, and approved based on safety and effectiveness. Take care of your teeth and smile bright with dental fluoride treatments!