Tooth decay (also called caries) acts like cancer on teeth, undermining their appearance and function. This condition occurs when bacteria that produce acid form around the teeth and gums, covering the teeth with a sticky, clear film called plaque.
The best way to prevent this is by practicing proper oral hygiene each day. Brush and floss twice a day to remove any plaque that may have accumulated on your teeth. Also, remember to come into our office for dental exams and cleanings once every six months. Dr. Schiffer is able to clean your teeth in ways that you can't on your own. Fluoride treatments also ward off tooth decay.
What is Fluoride and What Does it Do?
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that appears in all water sources. Studies have shown that fluoride can prevent tooth decay and reduce cavities in both adult and child patients. Fluoride is used for children as young as age 2. It is also able to repair teeth in the early stages of tooth decay before signs of decay are even noticeable.
Fluoride gets absorbed into a tooth's enamel once it makes contact with the tooth. After that, the fluoride plays a role in a process known as remineralization. In this process, the fluoride helps your teeth stay hard by providing phosphorus and calcium to the enamel.
As long as fluoride remains active during remineralization, it will deposit minerals into the enamel that boost the strength of the teeth and ward off dissolution during the next stage of demineralization. In this way, fluoride prevents tooth decay.
How do Fluoride Treatments Work?
We offer two different types of fluoride, systemic and topical. Systemic fluorides are swallowed. They often come in the form of dietary fluoride supplements and fluoridated water. Topical fluorides are applied onto the tooth enamel directly. Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes are examples of this.
We recommend that you receive both systemic and topical toothpaste to obtain the best results. Patients who are at an increased risk of tooth decay should come into our office for a professional fluoride treatment. The in-house fluoride treatments we provide are a much higher concentration than over-the-counter products.
What is the Procedure for Fluoride Treatment?
A professional fluoride treatment shouldn't take more than a few minutes. Dr. Schiffer will apply fluoride to the teeth in the form of a gel, foam, varnish, or solution. After the treatment is finished, he may ask you to refrain from eating, drinking, or rinsing for at least half an hour so the teeth can absorb the fluoride and repair microscopic areas damaged by caries.
It's recommended to get fluoride treatments once every 3, 6 or 12 months, depending on your oral health. If you're at an increased risk for tooth decay, we may suggest other prevention methods. These can include over-the-counter or prescription products such as gels, antimicrobial mouthwashes, and similar items.
We recommend that you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day, particularly after eating breakfast and before bed.
To schedule a fluoride treatment, call our office at (470) 222-8983.