Fluoride is a natural and mineral substance that exists in the teeth structure which helps the teeth to be strong. Fluoride is really effective in preventing the teeth from getting decayed especially among children. If you or your child are at risk of tooth decay or your dentist has advised you to do fluoride treatment (therapy), you need to read this article. In this article, we define fluoride therapy, application, the recommended levels, benefits and side effects. These information are really useful to know.
What is fluoride treatment?
Fluoride treatment is a simple and preventive way of teeth treatment which is done in a single-session appointment by applying the fluoride onto the teeth in order to increase the decay resistance of the teeth.
First, the dentist cleans the teeth surface by a special toothbrush and toothpaste and applies the fluoride gel or varnish onto the surface of the teeth. After that, the child shouldn’t eat anything for half an hour until they wash their mouth for the perfect absorption of the fluoride to the teeth.
This technique can also be done for adults, but this is mostly done for children and adolescents by the pediatric dentists.
When is the best time to do fluoride treatment?
As we mentioned above, fluoride treatment is done for children and adolescents, but it can be used in any age or for any purpose.
- As an example, children under 6 can benefit from fluoride therapy for protecting their baby(primary) teeth and definitely for protecting their permanent teeth that are just out of their gums
- For children between 6 and 16 years old, Fluoride therapy acts as a protective way for permanent teeth( especially for molar teeth that are at the beginning of development and are at high risk of tooth decay)
Dentists usually advise their patients, depending on their oral health conditions, to practice fluoride therapy regularly during every 3, 6 or 12 months.
Fluoride treatment in case of high risks of tooth decay
If your teeth are in bad tooth decay conditions, the fluoride gel is prescribed to be used regularly at home. These bad habits and situations can increase the risk of tooth decay:
- Alcohol and drug addiction
- Bad eating habits
- Poor oral health
- No professional dental caring
- Unhealthy diets
- Dry mouth and low saliva flow
- Weak enamel on teeth
Different levels of fluoride for different people
All of us should get some levels of fluoride in different ways. For example, we can get it from our diets or as our water supplements. We should be careful about the amount of fluoride we get.
Our table of fluoride level among the different groups of ages is as follow:
|Birth to 3 years of age||0.1 to1.5 milligrams|
|From 4 to 6 years of age||1 to 2.5 milligrams|
|From 7 to 10 years of age||1.5 to 2.5 milligrams|
|Young adults and adults||1.5 to 4 milligrams|
What are the advantages of fluoride treatment?
Adds minerals to our teeth
There are detrimental effects when there is too much acidity in your mouth and this acidity is harmful especially for children. The produced acid in your mouth can damage the structure of the teeth (like calcium and phosphorus) and weakens the teeth.
Luckily, fluoride can prevent the damages caused by the acid. This is done through adding minerals which contribute to reminaralization process of the teeth.
It is economical and reduces the future dental costs
Generally, preventive treatments can reduce dental costs and time.
Fluoride and the products containing fluoride are not really expensive and help you in your medical expenses. We can use fluoride in both topical and systemic way to prevent tooth decay or other dental problems.
Topical fluoride, including toothpaste, mouthwash and other dental treatments are directly applied onto the surface of the teeth. Systemic fluoride includes all those ways that fluoride is ingested, like drinking water systems in our community which is fluoridated and also other food supplements that we swallow.
Fluoride is natural and has inhibiting effects
There are a lot of tooth decay resistant ways available, but not all of them are natural. For example, pits and fissure sealants, which seals the pits or cracks on the chewing surface of the teeth to prevent tooth decay.
Fluoride naturally exists in the oceans and ground water. Even if you don’t do fluoride therapy, you can obtain some levels of that in the natural resources.
In the community water systems, some recommended levels of fluoride are added to the water. By the way, whether you get fluoride from natural resources or from fluoride therapy, it is the best and the cheapest preventive treatment that you can benefit from.
What are the side effects of fluoride treatment?
Fluoride doesn’t have side effects unless we use too much of that. It is recommended that we avoid fluoride treatment in the excessive way.
In some rare cases, the high dosage of fluoride causes fluoride toxicity (it is rare but better to be informed). There are other side effects because of high levels of fluoride, like bone growth disorder among children. For this reason, fluoridated toothpaste contains low levels of fluoride for children.
High dosage of fluoride can have these side effects:
- Stained permanent teeth
- White spots on the teeth
- Homeostatic bone problems
- Other bone problems
Sometimes, with high levels of fluoride supplements in tablets or other medication, some severe forms of toxicity appear and the symptoms are:
- Excessive sweating
- It can be lethal in some cases, so it should be kept out of the children’s reach