You may be wondering why your dentist recommends applying fluoride directly to your teeth during your periodic checkup when fluoride is already present in our water, toothpaste, and mouthwash. At Designing Smiles Dentistry, we believe it’s important for our patients to understand the crucial role fluoride plays in maintaining dental health and how a simple, painless topical application can provide an additional layer of protection for both children and adults.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that enhances the resistance of our teeth to the acids produced by harmful bacteria, which are responsible for causing cavities. It also strengthens the enamel—the tough outer layer of our teeth—against the early stages of decay.
The use of fluoride toothpaste has been recognized for its significant reduction in cavities since 1960. Additionally, fluoride has been added to many public drinking water supplies for over 70 years for the same reason—to combat tooth decay.
Despite these efforts, tooth decay remains the most prevalent chronic childhood disease, with cavities affecting half of all 5- to 9-year-olds and the majority of 17-year-olds, as reported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Topical fluoride applications can provide extra protection not only for a child’s primary (baby) teeth but also for their permanent ones. Our dentists may also recommend fluoride treatment for adults who are at a higher risk of developing cavities.
Following a thorough cleaning, a dentist can apply topical fluoride directly to the tooth surface in various forms, such as foam, gel, or varnish. Alternatively, it can be placed in a tray that covers the teeth for a brief period. In some cases, patients are advised to wait for about half an hour after treatment before consuming food or drinks to allow the fluoride to be absorbed into the tooth’s surface effectively.