Based on several years of research and scientific evidence, Fluoride is known to have a beneficial role to play in the prevention of bacterial decay of teeth known as dental caries. Since the 1980’s, a decline in dental caries has been attributed to the addition of premeditated concentrations of fluoride in domestic water supplies as well as its addition in mouthwashes and toothpaste. Apart from the availability of fluoride in the water supply system, direct application of the same on to the teeth is sometimes advisable.
What is Topical Fluoride Treatment?
Topical fluoride treatment is the direct application of fluoride onto the teeth in the form of varnishes, paste, gel or foam. It works by binding to the tooth structure at the molecular level, thereby forming a protective layer known as “fluorapatite”. This fluorapatite is more resistant to bacterial decay and reduces the risk of caries.
Why is it recommended?
- Prevention of Dental Caries: Fluoride treatment is recommended for individuals who are prone to or have a higher risk of developing caries. Direct application of fluoride is especially beneficial in all children shortly after the eruption of new milk or permanent teeth, in order to reduce the risk of developing tooth decay in the future. Fluoride can also be used to ‘heal’ initial caries lesions which present as white spots on the teeth. These spots are porous and the accumulation of a high concentration of fluoride prevents further decay in the area.
- Treatment of Sensitive Teeth: Sensitive teeth can be treated with fluoride application as the protective layer of ‘fluorapatite’ formed over tooth structure acts as a barrier over the teeth when exposed to cold air or water.
Fluoride Application on the Dental Chair
Application of fluoride is usually done after ‘scaling’ or professional removal of plaque deposits from the teeth in order for the fluoride to be in direct contact with the tooth surface. There are different forms of fluoride that are available for the application process, these include:
- Foam: Fluoride in the form of foam is sprayed onto a special tray and placed in the mouth for 10-15 minutes.
- Fluoride paste: Application of prophylactic (or preventive) pastes are applied after plaque removal which helps in replenishing lost fluoride in high concentration.
- Fluoride Varnish: Single tufted brushes are used to paint on fluoride varnish on to sensitive areas of teeth or areas prone to caries such as the joints between the teeth (proximal surfaces’) which are more prone to dental decay.
Flouride application over areas having the development of early or initial caries may prevent drilling of teeth to remove the bacterial decay in the future leading to the conservation of tooth structure and strength. Flouride leaches onto the tooth over several hours and therefore it is recommended to not eat or drink 30 minutes after its application and to avoid brushing or flossing for a period of 6 hours.
Routine check-ups at regular intervals of 6 months are recommended for scaling and preventive fluoride application for all children and adults as fluoride gradually wears away in time.
Aster Clinic, Arabian Ranches/Aster Clinic, Tecom