Tooth decay – or Dental caries – is caused by an acid-producing bacterium that collects around the teeth and gums. They form a stick, clear film called “plaque.” Without good and daily oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist, teeth become more vulnerable to decay. To prevent this, brush twice a day and floss or use a different type of interdental cleaner between your teeth to remove plaque. Be sure to schedule regular dental examinations and cleanings to help keep your teeth healthy.
Fluoride is another key for good oral health. Fluoride is a mineral which prevents decay and can repair teeth in early stages of the disease. There are two forms for fluoride to be obtained in: topical and systemic.
Topical fluorides are applied directly onto the tooth’s enamel, and include toothpastes, mouth rinses, or fluoride treatments at the dental office. Systemic fluorides are swallowed instead, including fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplements. Dental caries have the maximum reduction when fluoride is available to the patient in both forms. Dentists have offered in-office fluoride treatments for decades, all with the effort of preventing or attempting to halt tooth decay.
If you or a family member are at risk of developing decay, fluoride treatments provided by the dentist can help. The fluoride used in dental offices are much stronger in concentration than fluoride found in toothpastes or mouth rinses available in a store or at the pharmacy. Fluoride treatments provided by professionals normally take a few minutes and can be applied in the form of a solution, gel, foam, or varnish.
A fluoride treatment is typically applied with a cotton swab or a brush, is used as a rinse, or placed in a tray that is held in the mouth for several minutes. After the treatment is finished, you might be asked to avoid rinsing, drinking, or eating anything for at least 30 minutes. This is to allow time for the teeth to absorb the fluoride and repair any microscopic carious areas.
Fluoride treatments are recommended every three, six, or twelve months based on the status of your oral health. Depending on the status of your teeth, your dentist might also suggest other preventative measures, especially if you are at moderate or high risk of tooth decay. These measures may include over-the-counter or prescription therapeutic products including fluoride mouth rinses, fluoride gel treatments, or antibacterial mouth rinses.