Dental Fluoride Therapy
The Tug o’ War
Demineralization vs. Remineralization
Every day, your teeth lose minerals because of acids – whether from plaque on the teeth, or from the things you eat and drink. On the other hand, your teeth gain minerals from other foods and liquids, or products you consume each day. If you lose more than you gain, you end up with a cavity.
Fluoride happens to be a substance that attaches readily to teeth and strengthens them, helping you to win the Tug o’ War of Demineralization vs. Remineralization. This means, simply put, fewer cavities in your mouth.
Hey, isn’t fluoride already in our water and toothpaste? Why do I need more?
These are great questions, and the answers are: 1) yes, fluoride is very common in your tap water and most toothpastes, and 2) you may or may not need more!
That settles it, doesn’t it? Well, like many aspects of medical care, there is no absolute rule. But there certainly are excellent guidelines regarding fluoride therapy.
If you’re an adult with excellent dental hygiene and few dental restorations, you probably don’t need extra fluoride, unless you drink bottled or filtered water instead of tap water, and a carbonated drink or two during the day. Or, maybe you eat a lot of fruit because it’s “good for you”. Or, maybe you have a gastric reflux problem that your dentist would often be the first to identify. (Who else looks at the tongue side of your teeth under bright lights with a microscope?) In these latter cases, fluoride would be very helpful.
On the other hand, if you have a history of cavities and/or less than ideal oral hygiene, fluoride therapy is a tremendous help. If you’ve invested in crowns or bridges or porcelain veneers, why not protect that investment? But we recommend that the right fluoride product be applied properly and at the right time. That’s why we may recommend a fluoride therapy at the time of your cleaning. The teeth are freshly cleaned and ready to accept the right prescription strength fluoride product.
Low, Medium, or High?
During your examination, your risk for cavities will be determined. As you will learn, your risk will be labeled low, medium, or high.
If you are at low risk, general fluoride therapy isn’t usually recommended, although it wouldn’t do you any harm, and it might reinforce a weak point we haven’t detected yet. We may find isolated spots on teeth that might require treatment or desensitization.
If you are at medium risk, regular fluoride therapy during your cleaning appointments is usually recommended. This will help prevent, or reverse, damage from decay and treat any individual teeth that need it.
If you are at high risk, we fluoride therapy at your maintenance appointments is recommended as are certain products for at-home use on a daily basis.