If you’ve ever had a cavity, you’re in good company. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90% of Americans aged 20 and older have had at least one cavity.
Of course, just because tooth decay is common, that doesn’t mean it’s pleasant, nor does it mean it’s OK for your oral health. Cavities can be costly to treat, and in many cases, they can weaken the tooth and lead to more serious troubles, especially if they’re not treated right away.
The good news is fluoride treatments can help protect your teeth and decrease your risk of developing decay. Abir Faraj, DDS, and her team at Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, offer fluoride treatments as part of routine preventive care, giving patients a powerful tool against decay. Here’s how treatment works.
Fluoride is a mineral that’s naturally found in the soil, air, and water. Most of the water we drink and many of the foods we eat contain small amounts of fluoride, but not enough to prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride works in different ways to help protect teeth from decay. First, fluoride binds with tooth enamel to make it more resistant to acids that can cause the enamel to break down. Acid damage is a primary catalyst for tooth decay, making teeth more vulnerable to damaging bacteria.
In addition, fluoride acts to remineralize the tooth surface, restoring mineral content lost through daily activities, such as chewing and brushing. Remineralization strengthens the tooth structure and provides another barrier against bacteria.
Most toothpastes and some mouthwashes contain fluoride with the goal of helping prevent tooth decay. While this can be beneficial, the amounts don’t compare to what you get during a fluoride treatment at the dentist.
Fluoride is applied to the tooth surface as a clear, topical “varnish.” While fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes is quickly dispersed by saliva, the fluoride varnish uses a temporary adhesive to help the fluoride remain in contact with the tooth enamel longer, giving it time to penetrate the enamel layer.
Dr. Faraj applies the varnish with a brush. The process is completely painless and takes less than 10 minutes. Afterward, you’ll need to avoid eating, drinking, or smoking for at least a half hour to ensure the fluoride has time to penetrate.
Fluoride treatments are routinely recommended for kids to help prevent cavities from forming in both baby teeth and adult teeth, but adults can benefit, too. Fluoride treatment is also important for anyone who:
Dr. Faraj will help you decide if fluoride treatments are right for you based on your individual needs and decay risks.
Kids can benefit from fluoride treatments up to four times a year to strengthen developing teeth. Most adults opt for treatments once or twice a year during their routine dental exams.
Cavities can take a toll on your oral health and your smile aesthetics, too. Having regular dentist visits is one of the simplest and most effective ways to maintain your oral health and keep your smile looking its best.
To learn more about fluoride treatments and other important preventive care treatments, call 248-418-4542 or book an appointment online with Novi Family Dentistry today.