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Fluoride and Sealants

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Sealants are a preventive dentistry method wherein thin plastic coatings are applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth, acting as a barrier that prevents bacteria and food from collecting on the surface of the teeth. They are best suited for permanent molars that erupt around the age of 6 and second molars that erupt around the age of 12. Once the tooth has fully come in, it is important to schedule an appointment for sealant application as soon as possible. Sealants are nearly 100% effective in preventing decay on the chewing surfaces of your child’s back teeth.

Applying Sealant

Prior to applying the sealant material, our dentist will prepare the tooth by cleaning it with a dental solution that assists in ensuring the sealant sticks to the tooth, penetrating the tooth’s enamel. Once applied, sealants can last several years, but will be examined at your child’s regularly scheduled check-ups. If the sealant is dislodged and lost, do not worry. The dental solution used during the initial procedure will still provide protection and sealants can easily be replaced. 

Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride treatment assists in cavity prevention by helping to harden the tooth’s enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It enhances the remineralization process, even stopping or reversing the progress of small cavities. Fluoride treatment can be administered to the teeth in two ways: systemically through the bloodstream, and topically through direct contact with the teeth.

Systemic fluoride

Systemic fluoride can be derived from food, water, or dietary supplements in the form of pills, tablets, lozenges, or drops. It is most beneficial for children from birth to the age of 16, allowing fluoride to enter the bloodstream through ingestion. Once ingested, it circulates into developing teeth. This allows it to become a building block of the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acids. Studies show that fluoridated water and dietary supplements can reduce up to 60% of tooth decay. Fluoridated water is an easy and effective way to introduce fluoride into the body, reducing the chances of dental decay. 

Topical Fluoride

While the benefits of fluoride are amplified prior to tooth eruption, it is also very beneficial for children and adults once teeth have come in. Once teeth have already come in, a topical fluoride option is utilized. Topical fluorides are applied directly to the surface of your teeth to delay or prevent the process of tooth decay. 

Topical fluorides are available in a number of options, including ADA or CDA accepted fluoride toothpaste, professional fluoride application, over-the-counter home mouth rinses, and home care fluoride gel trays or brushes. Fluoride gels can be purchased over-the-counter or by prescription. Ask a member of our team about daily home fluoride programs, which are customized to fit your needs.

Professional Fluoride Application

Our office offers a professional topical fluoride application option. We use a gel that is applied for only a few minutes with a tray and can be done at the end of your next appointment. Please note, however, that professional fluoride application may not be suitable for all clients. If you’d like to inquire about eligibility, ask our team when making your next appointment, or just ask a member of our staff during your appointment.

Fluoride Safety

Fluoride is very effective in controlling dental decay when used properly. However, fluoride toxicity and dental fluorosis can occur if it is not used in the proper doses. 

Fluoride toxicity occurs when large amounts of fluoride are ingested over a short period of time. Symptoms of fluoride toxicity may include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased salivation or increased thirst. These symptoms will usually begin around 30 minutes after ingestion and can last up to 24 hours. Depending on the amount ingested, certain emergency procedures may be necessary. If you feel nauseous, drink milk or try to induce vomiting and call our office or a physician. If symptoms do not subside, or the condition worsens, call an emergency service to transport you to the hospital. 

Dental fluorosis is an excess of fluoride intake during the stages of tooth development, affecting children that are 8 years old or younger. Dental fluorosis ranges from mild, with white specks visible on teeth, to severe, with brown staining and pitting of enamel. If you believe your child is experiencing dental fluorosis, contact our office to make an appointment as soon as possible.

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