Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for more than 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.

Fluoride works in two ways:

Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using dental products that contain fluoride such as toothpaste, mouth rinses and gels. Dr. Vann generally recommends that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.

Systemic fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and from our community water supplies. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by Dr. Vann or a physician. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. It is very important to monitor the amount of fluoride a child ingests. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis may occur, resulting in white splotches on the teeth.

Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Dr. Vann may recommend the use of home/professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:

  • Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth
  • Exposed and sensitive root surfaces
  • Fair to poor oral hygiene habits
  • Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake
  • Inadequate exposure to fluorides
  • Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications
  • Recent history of dental decay

Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks and visit your dentist on a regular basis.