Did you know that your teeth have a built-in defense system to help protect them from cavities and tooth decay? This defensive covering is called enamel and it forms a hard, protective shell over the surface of your teeth. However, bacteria can eat away this protective layer if you don’t properly clean and take care of your mouth. Dentists recommend receiving regular fluoride treatments to help strengthen your enamel and reverse the effects of tooth decay. Fluoride treatments can also help children develop strong, healthy teeth for years to come.
WHAT IS FLOURIDE?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found throughout the earth’s crust and widely distributed in nature. Some food products and water supplies contain fluoride. Fluoride is often added to drinking water to help reduce tooth decay. Researchers found that people who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water had up to two-thirds fewer cavities than people living in areas without fluoridated water.
WHEN IS FLOURIDE TREATMENT MOST CRITICAL?
It is certainly important for children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years to be exposed to fluoride within the prescribed limit. This is the time frame during which the primary and permanent teeth come in. However, adults benefit from fluoride, too. People with certain conditions may be at increased risk of tooth decay and would therefore benefit from additional fluoride treatment. They include people with:
Dry mouth conditions:
Also called xerostomia, dry mouth is caused by diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, certain medications (such as allergy medications, antihistamines, antianxiety drugs, and high blood pressure drugs), and head and neck radiation treatment makes people more prone to tooth decay. The lack of saliva makes it harder for food particles to be washed away and acids to be neutralized.
Gum disease, also called gingivitis, can expose more of your tooth and tooth roots to bacteria increasing the chance of tooth decay.
History of frequent cavities:
People with at least one dental cavity every year or every other year benefit from additional fluorides through fluoride applications.
Family History of dental cavities
Parents who give family history of severe dental decays, their children can be benefited with fluoride treatment.
Presence of crowns and/or bridges or braces: These treatments can put teeth at risk for decay at the point where the crown meets the underlying tooth structure or around the brackets of orthodontic appliances.
Is Fluoride Treatment Really Necessary?
Fluoride has gained importance due to its dual influences on human beings. In lower concentrations, Fluoride is an essential nutrient which aids in the formation of bones, prevents tooth decay, etc., whereas in higher concentrations it causes fluorosis, brittling of bones etc. In India alone, endemic Fluorosis is thought to affect around one million people and is a major problem in 17 of the 25 states, especially Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh etc. People residing in these areas do not need fluoride therapy but on the contrary require a corrective measure to treat fluorosis. But there are certain regions in India where the optimal water fluoride level is low or children with a family history of multiple dental caries need an in-office fluoride therapy.