Fluoride and Sealants: Crucial to your Dental Health
Fluoride is a mineral found naturally in the earth's soil, water, and even in foods. Children benefit from fluoride systemically from the ages of 6 months to 16 years to strengthen and protect their teeth as they are being formed. Both children and adults benefit from topical fluoride to protect their teeth from decay (cavities).
Fluoride works to protect your teeth in the following ways:
- Acids in your mouth can be formed when bacteria consume sugar, or from the foods themselves. These acids will demineralize, or dissolve, the enamel on a tooth. Fluoride can protect your teeth from this process.
- When fluoride is present during remineralization, the minerals deposited are harder than they would be without fluoride. This strengthens the enamel and protects against further damage.
One of the many ways to increase fluoride levels is through fluoridated water. Community water fluoridation has had such a dramatic effect in decreasing tooth decay that it has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, and the World Health Organization.
Fluoride can also be found in toothpaste and mouthwash. Floss hygienists recommend brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste that has the approved ADA seal. Children under 3 years can use a smear the size of a grain of rice as soon as their first tooth erupts, and children 3-6 years should be using a pea-size amount. Mouthwash can be used on children 6 years and older.
Your Floss hygienists also recommend a fluoride varnish application with your cleanings that will slowly be absorbed to strengthen the enamel and/or a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste.
Sealants, also known as fissure sealants, is a preventative tooth colored protective coating that aids in reducing the risk of cavities on permanent teeth by 80 percent. Brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent cavities, but it is not always easy to clean every nook and cranny, especially those back teeth you use for chewing. Both children and adults benefit from sealants as teeth naturally have deep recesses (grooves) on their biting surfaces that can easily become cavitated (decayed).
Easily done at Floss in one appointment, sealants do not require any anesthetic. If any stain exists in the grooves of your teeth, Dr. K will clean them out prior to completing the sealant. Sealants will often last for several years before they need to be reapplied, however, Dr. Kleidosty believes so strongly in sealants that she will guarantee hers for life pending you maintain your regular dental exams and hygiene visits. She will check the condition at those appointments and reapply them if needed at no additional cost.