Are you looking for more information on how your general dentist can use fluoride to improve the health of your teeth? General dentists perform fluoride treatments all the time, especially during routine dental checkups. The treatments are a great way to keep the teeth strong enough to resist acid attacks from harmful mouth bacteria.
Many studies and dental articles sing the praises of fluoride, but is it really as useful as it is made out to be?
Fluoride’s role in the war between bacteria and the enamel
Fluoride is all around us and is a naturally occurring substance. In high concentration, fluoride is corrosive and toxic. In small doses, however, fluoride helps to keep the enamel intact.
When bacteria feed on food particles, they produce acid as a by-product. This acid corrodes the enamel by leaching away the minerals that are the building blocks of the tooth’s surface. Luckily, the saliva of a healthy person has enough minerals to replace the ones lost to the mouth bacteria.
This means that the enamel is constantly demineralized and re-mineralized over countless cycles.
The role of fluoride in dental health
Fluoride helps to fight the war against mouth bacteria in two ways. First, it combines with the other minerals in saliva to make super strong, high-quality enamel that rebuilds the teeth immediately after an acid attack. Because the replacement enamel now has fluoride in it, the bacteria have to work much harder to eat away at it.
Second, saliva that has enough fluoride in it creates a hostile environment for bacteria. This prevents the bacteria from multiplying uncontrollably, which reduces the amount of acid produced in the mouth. The result is that there is less acid to attack the fluoride-rich enamel that is already a little more resistant to corrosion.
Now that we see the benefits of fluoride, when would a general dentist recommend its use?
To protect teeth from cavities
Dental caries develops when mouth bacteria corrode the enamel faster than saliva can remineralize it. Fluoride helps to counter the actions of the bacteria and tilt the scales in favor of the teeth.
This is why general dentists recommend brushing with fluoride toothpaste, eating a diet rich in fluoride or drinking fluoridated tap water.
To reverse tooth decay in its earliest stages
Fluoride treatments can stop a small cavity dead in its tracks. It can also reverse a cavity that has only recently developed. General dentists will provide fluoride treatments to reverse newly formed cavities. They will also prescribe treatments that the patient can use at home.
When should fluoride be used sparingly or avoided altogether?
Although fluoride treatments are good for the teeth, they are not suitable for every situation. They should be used in moderation by:
- People who have a diet that is very rich in fluoride
- People who do not eat the sugars and refined carbohydrates preferred by bacteria to make acid
- To prevent fluorosis, parents should avoid exposing their children to too much fluoride. Children aged between two and six should only use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
- Parents that have children that are less than two years old should consult a dentist before cleaning their children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste
Talk to your general dentist about fluoride
Some people need more fluoride than others. To find out which category you fall under, see a dentist and get a checkup. Depending on the state of your teeth and gums, the dentist will advise you on how to use fluoride to protect your teeth.