Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral present in water in varying amounts depending on your geographic location. It is also synthetically produced which is then added to drinking water, toothpaste, mouth rinse products, and other chemical products. Dentistry encourages the use of products with fluoride and drinking fluorinated water as it has some benefits to your teeth.
Inside the mouth, there are bacteria that help breakdown food substances. In the process, they produce acids that can wear down the minerals on the enamel’s surface. This repeated loss of minerals is called demineralization and over time can result in a weakened tooth’s surface that is vulnerable to cavities. Fluoride helps reverse the effects of demineralization by depositing more minerals onto your enamel. It disrupts the production of acids in the mouth and speeds up the remineralization process.
How is Fluoride Administered in Dentistry?
At Ganger Family Dentistry, we provide professional fluoride treatments to help strengthen your enamel and reduce the chances of getting cavities. As mentioned earlier, fluoride is already present in most water sources and also in some foods. We advise patients to also use toothpaste and mouth rinses containing fluoride. To supplement these products, you can also get a fluoride treatment at the dentist’s clinic. This will involve the dentist applying fluoride varnish, gel, or foam onto your teeth. The treatments usually have a slightly higher concentration of fluoride than those found in dental hygiene products.
Fluoride varnishes are usually painted onto the teeth; foams are put inside a mouthguard that you will wear for anywhere between one to four minutes while gels can be painted or also put in a mouthguard. The procedure usually takes a few minutes and little discomfort is experienced by the patient. You will however have to hold-off brush your teeth for 4 to 6 hours to allow the fluoride absorb into the tooth’s enamel.
How Much Fluoride Is Recommended?
The fluoride we get from food, water, and supplements may not be enough. When you come for fluoride treatment, our dentist in Chicago will determine how much fluoride to administer depending on your specific dental requirements. We at Ganger Family Dentistry adhere to the recommendation by the American Dental Association to ensure effective treatment. the treatment should be done at least once annually but the frequency can be increased to after every 3 or 6 months depending on the status of your oral health.
The dosage used in treatment is usually determined by the patient’s age.
- For kids below 3 years, no more than 1.5mg should be used.
- Children between 4 to 6 years need a maximum of 2.5mg
- Kids between 7 to 10 years use between 2.5mg and 5 mg
- Adults and adolescents get 4mg to 5mg of fluoride per treatment
For kids, fluoride application is used as a form of tooth decay treatment. It may however not be necessary to use on kids under 3 years as they do not face a great risk of decay and cavities. Even for those older than 3 years, the treatment is performed once annually.
Risks Associated with Using Fluoride
Most people are aware of the benefits of fluoride treatment, but very few know of the side effects or risks associated with the procedure. it could be a simple procedure but a small mistake like giving the wrong dosage can result in serious consequences. Common side effects and risks include;
- Dental fluorosis occurs due to exposure to high concentrations of fluoride during childhood. It causes teeth’s enamel to develop tiny white specks. This does not affect the health of the teeth in any way but it remains a cosmetic issue as the discoloration is visible.
- Skeletal fluorosis affects bones and joints. Prolonged exposure to fluoride can cause the bones to harden and become less elastic. This increases the risk of fractures and with time even causes impaired joint mobility due to bone thickening and tissue accumulation.
- Thyroid problems such as hyperparathyroidism which occurs when the parathyroid gland is damaged
- Other effects include reproductive issues such as reduced fertility, cardiovascular problems, acne, and other skin problems.
Before undergoing any dental procedure, it is important that dentist take the time to educate patients on what to expect. This way a patient can make an informed choice and also know what to do to ensure success with the treatment course offered.