Fluoride treatments offer a wide array of benefits to those that partake in them – whether young or old.
Tooth decay – which is professionally referred to as “dental caries” – is a highly prevalent issue within the United States and abroad. According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 91% of all adults from as young as 20 years old to as old as 64 has tooth decay.
Once an individual reaches the age of 65, there is a 96% chance that they have tooth decay. While these figures are disheartening – to say the least – there is good news; if we place an emphasis on utilizing fluoride treatments among all age groups, these numbers will dwindle.
“Teeth are always in style.” – Dr. Seuss
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is an oral health condition that is caused by bacteria that produces acid in the mouth. That bacteria then collects around the teeth and the gums, where it transforms into a clear, very sticky film-like substance called “plaque”.
We all must practice good dental hygiene, consume food products that are healthy for the teeth, and visit a dentist on a regular basis in order to protect our teeth from decay; however, there is one more step that should be taken to ensure optimal protection. That is, the regular usage of fluoride treatments.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a special type of mineral that aids in the prevention of dental caries. It also helps to repair teeth that are considered to be in the beginning stages of tooth decay. When fluoride is on the teeth, it is directly absorbed into the enamel.
When this happens, the calcium and the phosphorous that helps to keep the teeth hard and healthy is replenished. This process is referred to by dental professionals as “remineralization”.
There are two methods for obtaining fluoride – topically and systemically.
Topical and Systemic
In most instances, fluoride is placed directly on the teeth. This is referred to as “topical” fluoride. Toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments provided by dental professionals are all considered to be topical-based fluorides. Fluorides that are swallowed are referred to as “systemic”. Examples of these include water that is fluoridated and fluoride supplements. To experience the highest level of benefits of fluoride, it is best to receive fluoride treatments at the dentist. These are ideal for those that have a high risk for developing tooth decay:
- Individuals that have poor oral hygiene
- Those that already have dental caries
- Those that suffer from eating disorders
- Individuals that use drugs or alcohol
- Those that do not visit the dentist often
- People that have high amounts of bacteria in the mouth
- People that have dry mouth
- Those that consume a diet that lacks proper nutrition
- Individuals that have problems with their enamel
- Those that are going through radiation therapy of the head and/or neck
Getting Fluoride Treatments at the Dentist
Individuals – either young or old – that are at a high risk for developing dental caries should receive fluoride treatments at the dentist. The mineral is offered at high concentrations. It will be provided as a specially-mixed solution, a gel, a type of foam, or as a varnish. It is carefully applied to the teeth and held in place for a few minutes at a time. No brushing or rinsing should be performed for at least a half hour.
This allows the fluoride treatments to work effectively in terms of repair and prevention of tooth decay. Children should engage in these treatments regularly.