Fluoride is used to preserve and prolong tooth structure through the prevention of decay.  Although sometimes controversial, long term studies have shown that the use of Fluoride reduces cavities  41% by preventing the demineralization of enamel and aiding in remineralizaion of weak areas.  When left undisturbed, plaque bacteria produces an acid that begins to break down the surface of enamel through Demineralization.  This creates a chalky white or brown Decalcified spot on the enamel surface.   Left untreated, this weak spot will eventually become decay.  Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing the demineralization process and increasing the Remineralization of enamel.

Types of Fluoride

Ingestible Fluoride

Ingestible Fluorides are fluorides that are swallowed and distributed throughout the body by the digestive tract and circulatory system.  Fluorides that are swallowed help to strengthen the enamel of the developing teeth within the bone.  The most common sources of ingestible fluoride is fluoridated drinking water.  In most public water systems in the United States, Fluoride has been added to help strengthen the bones and teeth of children.  It is most effective in the bones and teeth during the developmental stages.  Once retained in the enamel, fluoride is permanent.

By drinking and cooking with fluoridated water, most children receive an adequate amount of Ingestible Fluoride to help strengthen their teeth. Fluoride may be used effectively from prenatal stages through adolescence, when children are at their highest cavity prone ages.   If fluoridated water is not present, other options are available.  Some bottle water companies will supply water that has been fortified with a Fluoride supplement.  If you live in an area that does not have public water, have your Well Water tested for natural Fluoride.  Fluoride is a natural element found in many areas of the United States, and your ground water may already have enough of the element.

If, however, your Well Water does not contain Fluoride and there are children in your home below the age of twelve, a prescription for a Fluoride supplement can be written.  These are normally drops, pills or chewable tablets that the child takes daily.  The dosage of this supplement depends upon a child's weight.  Prescriptions should not be shared, and as a child grows, the dosage should be altered.

Note: Fluorosis occurs when a child receives too much Fluoride during the stages of tooth development.  Fluorosis is a brown, spotted or wavey appearance of the enamel.  Fluorosis occurs where there is a high level of Fluoride in the natural ground water, or when a child is given Fluoride supplements incorrectly.  Fluorosis cannot be caused by public Fluoridated water when the levels of fluoride are monitored and kept at a safe level.

Topical Fluoride

Topical Fluoride is used to strengthen and remineralize the enamel of the teeth which have already erupted in the mouth.  Topical Fluoride is applied to the surface of the tooth and should not be swallowed.  Topical Fluoride can be found in:

  • Toothpaste - Most over-the-counter toothpaste contains an adequate amount of Fluoride. For patients with greater needs, prescription strength Fluoride toothpastes are available.  PreviDent® 5000
  • Fluoride Rinses - Help to get Fluoride into hard to reach places.  ACT Restore
  • Floss embedded with Fluoride - To get between teeth.
  • Home Fluoride Gels - Patients with a high decay rate, Xerostomia, or having Head & Neck Radiation Treatment require a home fluoride gel prescribed for daily use.  This can either be applied by brush or placed into a custom tray. STOP Fluoride Gel.
  • Topical Fluoride applications at Routine Preventive Visits 

Fluoride Treatments

At the offices of Dr. Mark Freeman & Associates, our standard course of treatment is to begin applying Fluoride when the first adult tooth erupts.  Typically, Fluoride is applied once a year at a Routine Preventive Visit.  This continues until age 16.  At this time, most patients have passed the years when most crucial for decay.

Fluoride is applied at the end of a Routine Preventive Visit, after the teeth have been polished and examined.  Our office uses 3M ESPE Vanish 5% Sodium Fluoride Varnish.  It is applied to the arch with a small brush, and the patient is asked to move the material around with the tongue and lips.  Unlike older Fluoride Treatments, the patient can eat and drink once they leave the office; however, to obtain the maximum benefit, follow the recommendations listed below:

  • >Do not brush or floss your teeth for at least 4 - 6 hours.
  • >If possible, wait until the next day to resume normal oral home care.
  • >Eat a soft diet during the first 24 hours.
  • >Avoid hot drinks and products containing alcohol (beverages or oral rinses) during this time.

Although our office policy concerning Fluoride fits most patients, there are some clinical exceptiones where additional Fluoride Treatments are highly recommended.

  • Patients under the age of 16 who have well water.
  • Patients with Partial Dentures, especially around the areas where the clasps contact the teeth.
  • Patients who have root exposure.
  • Patients with root sensitivity.
  • Patients with a high decay rate.
  • Patients with an extensive amount of Crown and Bridge work.
  • Patients with Xerostomia.
  • Elderly or medically compromised patients who are unable to maintain their Oral Hygiene.
  • Patients in Orthodontics.
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