Professional Fluoride Treatments: What You Need to Know

At Timberlake Dental, we practice preventive dentistry.  This means we give our patients the tools they need to prevent dental problems.  One of the most important tools of preventive dentistry is the application of a professional fluoride treatment.

Professional fluoride treatments, also called “varnish”, pack a punch that you cannot get from using fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash every day.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is present in varying levels in the earth and therefore also in our groundwater.  Scientific research shows that when fluoride is incorporated into enamel, that enamel is stronger and more resistant to cavities.  As studies proved the great benefits of fluoride for teeth, communities began adding it to their community water supply.  Grand Rapids, MI, was the first city to add fluoride to its water in 1945.

The Center for Disease Control calls community water fluoridation one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century!

Is Fluoride Safe?

That’s a great question, and you will get different answers from different sources.  Fluoride is the topic of a decades-long controversy that was typically fought at the community level, when water fluoridation came up for discussion.  Nowadays, it is a topic of controversy on many blogs and health-related websites.

The reason for the controversy is the toxic effects of an overdosage of fluoride.  In correct amounts, fluoride strengthens enamel and fights cavities with no ill effects to the rest of the body.  However, in extremely high levels, it can cause neurological and skeletal problems.

Many vitamins and minerals are toxic if taken in the wrong amounts.  Fluoride is no exception.  This makes research and professional oversight even more important.

When used properly, fluoride helps maintain a healthy mouth for life!

What is a Professional Fluoride Treatment?

Fluoride is available in toothpastes, gels and mouthrinses.  The specific type of fluoride this blog addresses is a professional fluoride treatment called a fluoride varnish.

A varnish is a high-strength fluoride carried in a sticky gel that adheres to the teeth for several hours.  The extended release of a fluoride varnish allows the mineral to be absorbed by the teeth for up to 24 hours.

Research shows that professional fluoride treatments decrease cavity risk, strengthen enamel against damage from acid, and reduce tooth sensitivity.

What does a Professional Fluoride Treatment Involve?

It goes on quickly with a simple paintbrush and causes no discomfort at all.  This makes it easy to apply on children or special needs patients.  Your dentist or dental hygienist can literally apply fluoride varnish to teeth in under 20 seconds.  Because a varnish sticks to the teeth, it eliminates the risk of swallowing the fluoride. 

A fluoride varnish does not require a 30-minute interval with no eating or drinking afterward.  The patient is free to eat and drink immediately.

Who Needs Professional Fluoride Treatments?

The list of people who can benefit from professional fluoride treatments is a pretty long one.  It includes anyone with a high risk for cavities or other enamel damage and anyone experiencing sensitive teeth.  The following describe specific scenarios of people who could benefit from professional fluoride treatments.

  • Anyone who frequently develops new cavities
  • A person who has already had a lot of dental work
  • Patients with acid reflux, GERD, frequent vomiting, or another condition that brings stomach acid into the mouth
  • People with a diet consisting of very acidic foods and drinks (fruit, kombucha, teas, sparkling water, etc . . .)
  • Anyone with sensitive teeth due to gum recession
  • Someone with unexplained tooth sensitivity
  • Anyone who cannot whiten his or her teeth due to sensitivity
  • A patient who avoids professional teeth cleanings specifically because they make the teeth more sensitive
  • People who have difficulty in cleaning their teeth well: including children, the elderly, and those with physical disabilities

Do You Think You Need a Professional Fluoride Treatment?

If you fall into one of those categories and would like to discuss the benefits of professional fluoride treatments with Dr. Chowning, call us today at 940-382-1750 to set up a consultation.  He will explain your specific risk areas and how fluoride treatments can give you a healthier lifespan of your teeth.

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