They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which is certainly true when it comes to your oral health! Everyone can agree that spending time and money getting fillings, crowns and root canals is best avoided. But what’s the easiest way to do that? Of course, brushing, flossing and getting regular dental checkups is a great place to start. But there’s one more simple, inexpensive thing you can do that will dramatically reduce the number of cavities you get: Use fluoride at home or have it applied by a family dentist. In this blog, you’ll learn about what fluoride is, the best way to use it – and why it’s such a game-changer for your smile!
What Is Fluoride and Why Is It Recommended?
Fluoride is an element that’s naturally found in water, soil, plants and animals. It’s also present in small amounts in your bones and teeth, in addition to other minerals like calcium and phosphorous.
When it’s used topically, it prevents tooth decay by making your enamel hard and tough, as well as fighting cavity-causing bacteria.
In fact, fluoride is so effective that most dental insurance companies cover professional treatments up until age 19 – and some even cover it for all ages. They know that the patients who get fluoride treatments need significantly less dental work than those who don’t!
Although some people avoid fluoride because they’re concerned about it being toxic, it’s been safely used for decades in both the water supply and in topical treatments. As with any vitamin or mineral, including things like iron supplements, a huge dose can be harmful.
Fluoride would have to be ingested in very large amounts, not used topically, to have any negative effects.
How Can You Get the Benefits of Fluoride?
Fortunately, there are multiple ways to take advantage of the anti-cavity benefits of fluoride:
- Drink tap water – Drinking tap water is not only much cheaper and better for the environment, it has the added benefit of preventing cavities as well!
- Swish with fluoridated mouthwash – This option provides a low concentration of fluoride, but is still effective at preventing cavities when it’s used consistently 1-2 times a day.
- Use prescription-strength paste – If you’re especially cavity-prone, you can ask your dentist to give you a toothpaste with a high concentration of fluoride. These pastes are incredibly effective at preventing tooth decay when used consistently and correctly.
- Get a professional treatment – There are two main ways to apply fluoride professionally. First, a patient can bite down on a foam tray with fluoride gel in it for up to 4 minutes. Second, a varnish can be painted on the teeth, which remains there for at least 4 hours before being brushed away.
The use of fluoride is one of the reasons that people have dramatically better oral health today than they did 100 years ago. It’s a simple, fast and inexpensive step you can take now – to prevent bigger problems down the road!
About the Author
Dr. Leslie Metzger is a family dentist in Farmington who wants to help her patients avoid major dental work as much as possible. She is a firm believer in the safety and efficacy of fluoride and has seen firsthand how it keeps her patients’ teeth healthy and strong. If you have any additional questions about fluoride, she can be reached through her website or at (248) 476-3410.