Dental cavities affect virtually all adults in the United States. Research from the National Center for Health Statistics found that a whopping 91% of adults aged 20 to 64 had dental caries. Also known as tooth decay or caries, cavities are a major oral health problem that occurs when acids made by bacteria in dental plaque aren’t removed through brushing and flossing. Instead, the acids start to erode the teeth layer by layer, creating a hole through which bacteria can penetrate and infection can occur. Fluoride treatment provides an added layer of protection for your teeth that will keep your smile healthier for longer.
What Are Dental Cavities, and Why Do We Get Them?
All of the foods and drinks that we consume come into contact with our teeth. Many of them also contain sugars. It is these sugars that interact with the bacteria that is naturally found in our mouths and produce the acids that start to erode the layers of our teeth. Even if you brush and floss your teeth as well as you can, it’s nearly impossible to remove all of the plaque acids — particularly from tiny crevices and indents in the teeth. Over time, cavities can start to develop, eroding the tooth one layer at a time unless they are treated.
Am I at Risk of Getting Cavities?
Anyone can get cavities, but there are some risk factors for tooth decay that make it more likely. You could be at higher risk of getting a dental cavity if you:
- Don’t brush your teeth regularly, at least twice a day.
- Don’t floss every day.
- Have gum recession which is where the gums start to pull away from the base of teeth.
- Don’t visit your dentist for regular check-ups or routine professional cleanings.
- Suffer from dry mouth.
What Is Fluoride, and Why Is It Important?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that’s usually found in water sources. As a result, we consume it every day without even realizing it. However, fluoride is particularly good for our teeth. Our teeth are made up of many minerals. Over time, these can start to deteriorate causing the enamel to weaken and increase the risk of cavities forming. Fluoride can remineralize the teeth, repairing any weakened areas of enamel and strengthening them against decay.
While we get a small amount of fluoride from the foods and drinks we consume, the best way to maximize the protection it can offer our teeth is to include it in our dental care. Fluoride is added to some dental products such as toothpaste. However, the most efficient and direct method of protection is to undergo fluoride treatment. Once thought of as being just for kids, fluoride treatment is now recommended for everyone in the family regardless of their age.
Fluoride treatment is a very popular form of preventative dentistry. It is carried out in-office by either your dentist or hygienist, is non-invasive and usually performed in under an hour. A special substance — usually a varnish, gel or foam — that contains very high levels of fluoride is applied directly to the surface of the teeth. This is done using a brush or placed in a tray which is then slotted over the teeth and then held in place. Once the fluoride solution is dry, you’ll be advised not to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes which will give your teeth time to absorb the fluoride and allow it to get to work remineralizing and repairing your enamel.
How Often Do I Need a Fluoride Treatment?
Every patient is different. So, how often fluoride treatment is recommended will depend on your oral health. However, most patients are recommended to have a fluoride treatment at least once per year and this is often carried out at the same time as a regular dental examination or professional cleaning. Speak to your dentist for more information.
Is Fluoride Safe for Children?
As a parent or caregiver, you always want to do the very best for your kids, and this means checking that all treatments are suitable for your young ones. It is a common misconception that fluoride isn’t safe for children. The fact is that it is just as important that children have a fluoride treatment as it is for adults.
Should I Still Use Fluoride Toothpaste?
Fluoride toothpaste is a great addition to any oral hygiene, even for children. Although, the amount of toothpaste that they use should be reduced based on their age. Use just a tiny smear on baby teeth and a pea-sized dollop on the toothbrush of kids aged 3 to 7 years old. Regardless of your age, you should always spit out fluoride toothpaste rather than swallow any excess.
Fluoride Treatment at West Coast Dental
Fluoride treatment is a great way to protect your teeth against cavities and maintain your smile. For more information on fluoride treatment, types of treatment and more, visit our Fluoride Treatments page. To get started with this preventative dental treatment, schedule an appointment at West Coast Dental today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Dental Caries and Tooth Loss in Adults in the United States, 2011–2012
Mouth Healthy – Fluoride
Mouth Healthy – A Mom’s Guide to Fluoride
American Academy of Pediatrics Dentistry (AAPD) – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)