Why Do Dentists Give Fluoride Treatments?

Why Do Dentists Give Fluoride Treatments?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water and certain foods. Fluoride can help prevent tooth decay by strengthening the enamel and making the teeth more resistant to acids. Bacteria and sugars in plaque attack the enamel layer, causing demineralization or loss of minerals. 


Adding fluoride and other minerals to the enamel layer helps repair the damage. Fluoride treatments help with remineralization while also disrupting acid production.



Using Fluoride Products 



Fluoride can be applied directly to the teeth using toothpaste, mouth rinses, and other products. Over-the-counter products contain lower-strength fluoride than prescription products. Dentists can apply stronger concentrations of fluoride in the office, available as varnish, gel, or foam. 

The in-office solutions have higher fluoride levels than fluoride toothpaste and rinses. Fluoride tablets or liquid supplements are also available by prescription.



During Fluoride Treatment 



Dentists usually use fluoride treatments in concentrated varnish, foams, gels, or rinses. The treatments can be applied with a brush, swab, mouthwash, or tray, which only takes a few minutes. The dentist will recommend waiting for 30 minutes before eating or drinking. This will allow the fluoride to absorb fully. 


Your dentist will help determine the best treatment based on your dental health history. The treatments are scheduled every three, six, or 12 months depending on the patient’s oral health. 



When to Get Fluoride Treatment



Fluoride treatments can be used at any age, but they are vital in children. Children should be exposed to fluoride from the moment the teeth erupt until they are 16. The period when permanent teeth are emerging is critical for fluoride treatment. Research indicates that using fluoride products and getting fluoride treatments are essential for preventing tooth decay and strengthening the teeth. 



Who Can Benefit From Fluoride Treatment?



Fluoride treatments help strengthen developing teeth, and they are also beneficial in other situations. They help individuals with the following:


  • Gum disease or periodontitis can expose the tooth roots, increasing the risk of developing tooth decay.
  • Dry mouth condition from certain diseases, medications, and treatments. A dry mouth or lack of saliva increases the risk of tooth decay. It is harder to wash away food particles.
  • Frequent cavities. Individuals prone to cavities can benefit from fluoride treatments to protect the tooth enamel. 
  • Dental restorations such as bridges, crowns, and braces. The dental procedures leave the teeth more susceptible to decay where the restoration joins the tooth structure. 

Your dentist can help determine if you can benefit from fluoride treatments. 



Effects of Too Much Fluoride



Fluoride treatments are safe when used as directed. But in high doses, fluoride can be hazardous. Safe levels are based on the user’s weight. Children need supervision when using fluoride products. Side effects of too much fluoride include:


  • Teeth pitting and discoloration.
  • White specks on the teeth.
  • Dense and weak bones.
  • Issues with bone homeostasis. 


Acute fluoride toxicity can cause diarrhea, nausea, excess sweating, and tiredness. In extreme cases, it can be fatal. Using fluoride products at home can help prevent cavities. There are several sources of dietary fluoride, including water, tea, bony fish, and infant formula. Supplements can be a good source of fluoride.


For more about why dentists give fluoride treatments, visit Castro Valley Dentistry at our Castro Valley, California office. Call (510) 674-0900 to schedule an appointment today.

All Smiles
Dental Services

Learn More

In Touch

Contact Us