Fluoride Supplements: When Should You Use Them?
Fluoride is an element found in the earth, water and air. By the 1940s, medical researchers found that people whose tap water had higher amounts of fluoride experienced fewer dental cavities. This resulted in cities adding fluoride to treated water and to fluoride supplementation of toothpastes, mouth rinses and dental treatments. Today, dental fluoride is used to help prevent cavities in people who have an increased risk of dental decay.
Benefits of Fluoride for Your Dental Health
Fluoride helps to protect your teeth from cavities because it is absorbed by and integrated into your dental enamel. The fluoride helps to strengthen and harden the enamel, making it more resistant to the acids from bacteria that cause dental decay. The fluoride can also help to repair enamel that has begun to erode. Experiencing dental decay early in life increases a child’s risk for more serious dental problems as they get older. For example, an early cavity in a permanent molar may require a filling. Large areas of decay could result in a child needing a root canal or crown.
Fluoride treatments are performed in the dentist’s office. Your dentist may recommend this procedure if your home’s water is not fluoridated, such as if you have well water or if you drink bottled water instead of tap water. Some home water filtration systems remove the fluoride. The fluoride treatments offered by your dentist are usually recommended for children whose permanent teeth are erupting. They are most helpful on the molars, which are harder to reach for thorough brushing and flossing. The fluoride can be applied to any permanent tooth. If you are an adult at risk of dental decay, fluoride can also help to prevent you from getting cavities. Fluoride treatments from your dentist are usually performed every 6 to 12 months.
Fluoride supplements may also be recommended for you by your dentist. Fluoride supplements are like small vitamins that are available by prescription. Your body absorbs the fluoride and it is used to strengthen the enamel of your teeth. Fluoride supplements are often prescribed for children who have had signs of dental decay or who are at risk of cavities because of another medical condition, such as thin enamel.
Who Should Use Fluoride Supplements or Treatments
Your dentist will perform an oral exam to determine if you would benefit from fluoride supplementation. In children, fluoride supplements are often used as a primary method of preventing cavities. Teenagers and adults may take fluoride supplements if they have deep pits or fissures in their molars or have a personal history of dental decay. If you have a history of cavities, your dentist may recommend both fluoride treatments and supplementation.
Contact us today for more information about how fluoride can help your teeth or to make an appointment!