Everyone has probably heard of fluoride, a substance that is added to drinking water in many cities. It is also part of many toothpastes. In this report, Dr. Stuart Rich explains the value of fluoride and why getting routine dental fluoride treatments is a good idea.
Dr. Rich says that a professional fluoride treatment following teeth cleaning is a very good idea for people of all ages, whether or not dental insurance covers it. Fluoridated toothpaste is great, but it is not as effective as the treatment, especially for people who are not extremely diligent with dental hygiene and who already have fillings in their teeth.
The dental fluoride treatment is a paint-on varnish. Applied at the end of a teeth cleaning session, the varnish makes teeth feel rough. This is because the varnish allows the fluoride to soak into the teeth surfaces, remineralizing the weak areas. The treatment lasts for several days. It’s especially helpful at crown margins and tooth surfaces exposed by minor gum recession.
The other consideration is that most people, in the course of a day, eat and drink a lot of things that are quite acidic, including red wine, tea and coffee, energy drinks, and orange juice. All of these things contribute to eroding tooth enamel. This is especially bad for root surfaces, which are supposed to be covered by gums. The varnish works so well because it holds the fluoride in place, allowing it to reach the weak spots that need the help. And the cost of a fluoride treatment is probably about one-eighth of the cost of a simple filling, so it is very cost effective.
As to a choice of toothpaste, you should use one with fluoride. But the concentration of fluoride in over-the-counter products is much lower than that found in prescription toothpastes. Another problem with toothpastes is that most of us rinse as soon as we have brushed, removing the fluoride from the teeth. Using a prescription toothpaste, the idea would be to leave an amount of the toothpaste in the mouth for thirty minutes.
Another option for people having decay problems is a custom fluoride tray. It looks a lot like a whitening tray, but it is used to hold a fluoride gel and is put into the mouth after a patient has brushed and flossed, remaining in place for up to an hour. This is an effective means of treatment, including for people who are having cancer treatment that dries up their saliva.
Dr. Stuart H. Rich, DDS, practices dentistry with Simply Smiles of Auburn, Washington. Dr. Stuart Rich has been rated Top Dentist for the 5th year in a row, including 2014, by a survey of dental specialists, published annually in Seattle Metropolitan magazine. Sleep Better TV is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.