Let’s talk fluoride
During this time of interrupted life and more time at home, it is a great time to improve not just overall health but oral health as well. One of the easiest and greatest ways to do that is with a naturally occurring compound called fluoride. Most have heard of fluoride, but we want to you to know just how great it is for your oral health.
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element on earth, and can be found not only on the surface of the earth but also in fresh or salt water and even rain. Fluoride is a naturally occurring cavity fighter and can help protect teeth from cavity causing bacteria as well as strengthen teeth from the inside out.
How Does Fluoride Help?
Fluoride helps teeth in two different ways: topically and systemically. When teeth are being formed and fluoride is ingested through food or water, the fluoride actually incorporates itself into the enamel (or hard outer surface of the tooth), making it stronger. This makes the teeth stronger from the inside out, or systemically.
When fluoride is used topically with toothpaste or mouth rinse, it can actually help rebuild enamel that is weakened. Tooth enamel is compromised or weakened through eating or drinking acidic foods, as well as the acidic byproduct that the bacteria in our mouth produce when feasting on sugary or starchy meals. Fluoride can help prevent damage as well as rebuild the weakened enamel!
How Do I Protect my Teeth with Fluoride?
As an adult, using fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinse can provide that extra protection for your teeth. We recommend brushing with fluoridated toothpaste every morning and every night, and if you want to add in a little extra using mouth rinse once a day. Mouth rinse is not a substitution for brushing however, because just rinsing does not remove the bacteria (plaque or tartar) off of the teeth. Only brushing or flossing can remove plaque, and mechanically removing that bacterium is essential to oral health.
For children, it is important that they are exposed to fluoride systemically as well as topically, and equally important that they are not exposed to too much. Dr. Smith can go over toothpaste recommendations and doses for your little ones based on age, and can also discuss a fluoride supplement. In general, for children younger than three years old, it is recommended to use a dose of toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice, and to teach and ensure they are practicing spitting it out and not swallowing. For kids between the ages of 3 and 6 years old, no more than a pea size amount of toothpaste is recommended.
For patients with high cavity risk, Dr. Smith can also prescribe toothpaste with a more medicinal dose of fluoride to prevent decay and treat demineralization more aggressively. In office, we also provide topical fluoride application with a higher dose of fluoride than regular toothpaste has at home. After the dental cleaning and exam, our hygienists apply the fluoride and the patient is able to eat and drink within a half hour after the appointment.
Currently we are seeing patients on an emergency case basis only, and cannot wait to open our doors again for preventive visits when the guidelines as well as our supplies indicate. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at (509)466-2373 and leave us a message.