fDental decay is a common condition all over the world. One way to help prevent cavities from occurring is through the use of fluoride. Fluoride helps harden the tooth enamel and make it more resistant to tooth decay. A small cavity can be stopped and even reversed by the remineralization process enhanced by fluoride. Call Parkway Dental today to learn more about fluoride treatments in Cary, North Carolina, and schedule your appointment with Dr. Stephen Coker.

Fluoride can be delivered to the teeth in two ways: topically (direct contact on the teeth) and systemically (enters the blood stream).

Topical Fluoride
Even though the benefits of fluoride are maximized before the teeth erupt (come in), fluoride is still very beneficial for children and adults after the teeth are fully erupted. Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth structure to delay or slow down the tooth decay process.

Topical forms of fluoride include:

  • Toothpaste – used daily, must have an ADA or CDA Seal of Acceptance on the label.
  • Professional fluoride application – this is a gel that is applied for 1 to 4 minutes, usually in a tray at the end of a dental appointment. Not everyone is given a professional fluoride application; it depends on your oral health needs.
  • Fluoridated home mouth rinses – can be purchased over-the-counter and used for children over 6 years of age and adults who are susceptible to cavities.
  • Home care fluoride gels – applied by trays or by brush, these gels are for those who are highly susceptible to cavities.

Even though the benefits of fluoride are maximized before the teeth erupt, fluoride is still very beneficial as a daily defense against decay. Fluoride gels can be purchased over-the-counter or by prescription. Ask us for a daily home fluoride program that is individualized for your needs.

Systemic Fluoride

Systemic fluoride is delivered to the tooth surface via the bloodstream. Systemic fluoride can be derived from a food source, water source, or dietary supplements (pill, tablet, lozenge, drop). Fluoridated water is an effective way to reduce the problem of dental decay. It has been shown that fluoridated water and dietary supplements can reduce up to 60% of tooth decay.

Some water supplies naturally contain fluoride, but for others fluoride is added to the water supply. If you would like to know if your community’s water supply contains fluoride, call your local water or health department. Children from birth to 16 years of age will benefit the most from systemic fluoride. Sixteen is currently the age at which the American Dental Association recommends children can discontinue fluoride vitamin supplements.

Fluoride Safety
Fluoride is very effective in controlling tooth decay when used correctly.  If not used in the proper doses, fluoride toxicity and dental fluorosis can occur.

Fluoride toxicity occurs when large amounts of fluoride are ingested over a short period time.  This can be dangerous to your health.  Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and increased salivation or increased thirst.  Symptoms typically begin 30 minutes after ingestion and can last for up to 24 hours.

If your symptoms do not subside or worsen (difficulty breathing) call 911, Poison Help Line 800-222-1222 or visit your nearest Hospital or Urgent Care.

Dental fluorosis is caused by an excess intake of fluoride during tooth development.  It ranges from mild forms (characterized by white specks on the teeth) to severe discolorations (brown staining and pitting of tooth enamel).

To avoid experiencing adverse effects from fluoride, follow these basic rules:

  • Do not swallow fluoridated products.
  • Only a small amount of toothpaste, the size of a small pea, is needed for a child.
  • Fluoridated products, especially mouth rinses should not be given to a child under 6 years of age, or to anyone who cannot rinse and spit (those you suspect are swallowing some of the product).
  • Keep fluoridated products out of reach of children.
  • Parental supervision is needed for children when brushing or using any fluoridated substances.

For more information about fluoride, contact our office today.