Fluoride is the most effective form of tooth decay prevention available. It is a naturally present mineral in almost all food and water sources.
Fluoride treatment works in two ways:
Topical fluoride: This strengthens the teeth once they have emerged by infiltrating the enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. Topical fluoride can be found in dental products such as toothpaste, mouth washes, and gels. We generally recommend that adolescents have anl application of fluoride twice a year at their dental check-ups.
Systemic fluoride: This treatment strengthens the teeth that have emerged as well as those that are growing under the gumline. Systemic Fluoride is also available as a supplement in drop/gel form and can be prescribed by your dentist or GP. Typically, fluoride drops are used for babies, and tablets for children. It is important to watch the amounts of fluoride a child ingests. If too much is ingested while the teeth are still growing, fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may occur.
Although most people receive healthy amounts of fluoride from food and water, it isn’t always enough to prevent decay. Your dentist may recommend the use of home fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
- Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.
- Fair to poor oral hygiene habits.
- Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake.
- Inadequate exposure to fluorides.
- Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications.
- Recent history of dental decay.