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Helpful Information about Dental Fluoride

September 29, 2011

When it comes to good oral hygiene, fluoride just might be the most important and multifaceted ingredient to keeping your smile at its best.  Fluoride helps keep our teeth and gums strong and healthy, and is known to help prevent and reverse the early stages of tooth decay.  It is a common ingredient in products designed to fight tooth decay, including toothpaste and mouth rinses.  Fluoride is so good for our teeth that small amounts are even added to drinking water in most states of the country.  Fluoride creates a protective layer around the teeth that prevents the acid in plaque from dissolving tooth enamel, allowing the teeth to re-mineralize.  Fluoride is definitely a must for people with softer teeth or at the onset of a cavity. Fluoride dental treatments come in many forms like rinses, gels, foams, varnishes and supplements. Most fluoride rinses can easily be purchased over the counter, and stronger varieties may be prescribed by your dentist. Fluoride Supplements may be prescribed by your dentist for patients 16 years old and under who need a regular supply of fluoride depending on the severity of tooth decay, the child's age, and the amount of fluoride in the water the child drinks regularly.  According to the ADA, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), dentists are allowed to prescribe 0.25 to 1 milligram of fluoride. By ingesting fluoride supplements, the fluoride enters the bloodstream of the patient and incorporates itself into the developing teeth of young children. Fluoride gel most commonly called "topical fluoride" is placed into special trays and applied directly to your child's teeth.  Your child may receive a gel product if they have certain risk factors for tooth decay including health problems such as dry mouth, previous history of cavities, or the use of orthodontic appliances such as braces. Available types of fluoride gel include sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride and acidulated phosphate fluoride. These products have a high acid content and in most cases your child will receive this treatment in a dental office under direct supervision. During a routine visit at the dental office, your child will have gel applied to their teeth for a period of one to four minutes. It is recommend by the ADA that treatment with fluoride gel or varnish be done every six months. High risk patients may receive treatment as often as every three months. Fluoride varnish is a professionally applied adherent material which consists of a high concentration of fluoride in fast drying, alcohol based solution. Because of this high concentration, up to 20 times higher compared to toothpaste, fluoride varnishes are only available to dental professionals. This application is recommend for infants and children who are at higher risks of developing cavities. It works by strengthening the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to acid attacks by plaque and bacteria in the mouth. Fluoride varnish is painted directly on the tooth surface. It quickly adheres to the teeth promoting tooth remineralization and hardens into a clear yellowish film. It is slowly released to the tooth surface over time providing on-going fluoride protection. Applying the varnish takes about two minutes. The child should not brush the evening following the fluoride varnish application but should resume normal brushing the following morning. Fluoride varnish applications are becoming the preferred anti-cavity topical agent used for children because they are safer, takes less time, and create less patient discomfort while achieving greater patient acceptability than fluoride gels, foams and rinses. There are also risks involved when too much fluoride is given to children during childhood years which may cause damage to the tooth-forming cells, leading to a defect in the enamel known as "Dental Fluorosis".  Teeth that have been effected by fluorosis have visible discoloration ranging from white spots to brown and black stains. The enamel of the tooth can become porous resulting in chipping, fracturing and decay. In particular, advanced forms of fluorosis can cause embarrassment to children resulting in emotional stress, effects on self esteem. Because of this, some parents have opted to give their children a fluoride-free toothpaste and toothpaste manufacturers now offer both fluoride and fluoride-free versions of the same toothpaste.  Dental Fluorosis can be cosmetically treated by a dentist. The cost and success depend on the type of treatment. Tooth Bleaching, micro- abrasion, conservative restorations, or porcelain veneers are commonly used treatments. Talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments and the risks of fluorosis. A complete oral examine can determine if your child is getting too much, or not enough fluoride. Together you can achieve a treatment plan that is suitable for your child. Aim Clinical Anticavity Toothpaste (maximum fluoride level) Colgate Phos-Flur Aniticavity Fluoride Rinse Colgate Gel-Kam (fluoride gel) Kiss My Face Kids Berry Smart Toothpaste