Tooth decay can be significantly reduced and prevented with fluoride treatment. Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral in food and water sources, is the most effective agent for cavity and tooth decay prevention.
Professional health organizations have recognized and supported the many benefits of fluoride for over fifty years.
There are two ways that fluoride works:
Topical fluoride can be found in various dental products like toothpaste, tooth gels and mouthwash. Fluoride may also be administered by dentists and dental hygienists in a clinic via professional fluoride treatments which are generally recommended for children with developing teeth. Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth by penetrating the tooth enamel to make teeth more resistant to decay. It is advised that children get fluoride treatments twice each year during their dental visits.
Systemic fluoride is present in most foods and community water sources. Systemic fluoride works both on teeth that have erupted and those still developing beneath the gums. It may also be administered in the form of fluoride gel or drops available at a dental clinic. A dentist will usually prescribe fluoride drops for infants while fluoride tablets are more suited for growing children up to their teenage years. The amount of fluoride a child receives should be carefully monitored though, as excessive amounts of fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition characterized by white spots on developing teeth.
While systemic fluoride is available from food and water sources, the amounts are not enough to be effective in tooth decay prevention. Your dentist or dental hygienist may prescribe professional or home fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
Keep in mind however, that fluoride will not prevent tooth decay on its own. You still need to practice good oral and dental care habits such as brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing regularly, eating well-balanced meals and reducing you sugar intake. Visit your dentist regularly to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy.