Fluoride and Decay Prevention

 Fluoride and Decay Prevention

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that has been shown to help strengthen teeth in children and also prevent decay in people of all ages. Topical fluoride in particular is helpful for promoting oral health. The American Dental Association has publicly endorsed the use of fluoride for the prevention of dental caries, as has the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

Fluoride and Decay Prevention

Did you know…

that you might be drinking fluoride everyday without knowing it? Many communities add fluoride to the public water supply in an effort to promote better dental health. You can find out if there is fluoride in your tap water by contacting your local water utility. Keep in mind that if your primary source of drinking water is bottled, you may not be getting fluoride. You can contact your bottle water company or manufacturer to find out if fluoride is in your water. If not, speak with your dentist about getting professional fluoride treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there different types of Fluoride?

There are two types of fluoride: systemic and topical. Systemic fluoride is in tap water in most communities in Rhode Island. This type of fluoride is very important for children to receive while their teeth are developing because the fluoride gets into the enamel rods and helps to strengthen the teeth. If your child is drinking bottled water be sure that it contains fluoride. Topical fluoride is in toothpaste and it is the professional applications that we apply in our office. This type of fluoride is important once the teeth are formed to keep them cavity free.

Do I need fluoride treatments?

Although, most water supplies in Rhode Island contain fluoride our office recommends that all children under the age of 19 receive one to two topical fluoride treatments annually to help protect your teeth from dental decay. Fluoride treatments are especially important for all patients, young and old, who have braces,  or have dry mouth due to medications or illness, or those who have receeding gums,  since the exposed root surfaces are more susceptible to dental decay.

What should I expect during fluoride treatments?

Fluoride treatments are painless and can be administered in your Riverside dentist’s office at your twice-yearly check-ups and cleanings. Your hygienist will distribute a fluoride varnish over all of the tooth surfaces using a small brush. The treatment takes only a few minutes and you will be instructed not to eat, drink or rinse for 30 minutes post treatment. It is recommended that you avoid very hot liquids and hard foods for the remainder of the day and that you do not brush until bedtime. Fluoride varnish treatments mix with the saliva and continue to work for several months. Although highly recommended, fluoride treatment for those over 19 years of age may not be covered under your insurance plan.  Jackie or Karen can assist you in determining if you have insurance coverage for these treatments.

Is there anything I can do to supplement my fluoride treatments?

Yes. The ADA recommends supplementing your fluoridated drinking water or Riverside fluoride treatments with an over the counter fluoridated toothpaste. Quite often, our office will prescribe a prescription strength fluoridated toothpaste for at home use to help prevent tooth decay. This is highly recommended for patients with a high incidence of decay, and those patients with root exposure, dry mouth and  braces.

Xylitol, which is a natural sugar substitute, can also help to reduce the risk of getting cavities by decreasing the acid-producing bacteria in your mouth. Three to ten grams of xylitol are necessary per day to help prevent cavities. Many products, such as gum, mints, toothpastes and oral rinses, contain xylitol, although all products are not equivalent. Products with high amounts of xylitol are typically found in health food stores or online. It is very IMPORTANT to note that if you are allergic to tree nuts, you may also be allergic to xylitol since it is plant derived. Also, xylitol can be toxic to pets, just like chocolate, grapes and onions. For more information on xylitol please visit our Xylitol page under Patient Education-Oral Health Topics.