8 Facts About Topical Fluoride Varnish and Treatment

Fluoride, you very may likely have heard of it. Dentists and dental hygienists recommend twice a day daily usage of toothpaste with fluoride. The American Dental Association grants toothpastes with the ADA seal of acceptance only to toothpastes that contain fluoride.

There are also mouth rinses over the counter that contain fluoride.

Your dental professional provides prescription strength fluoride treatments that are applied topically. The fluoride treatments, in the form of a varnish or foam, can only be given by a dental professional and has tremendous positive effects for your teeth.  Below are some facts about fluoride, and we also find out how long you should wait to eat or drink after getting professional fluoride treatment at the dental office.

1. FLUORIDE IS COMPLETELY NATURAL AND FOUND ON THE EARTH

Fluorine is found on the periodic table of elements and has the symbol F with an atomic number of 9. Fluorine (F) forms inorganic and organic compounds called fluorides. Fluoride is a 100% natural mineral and occurs naturally in ground water, soil, and rocks. It is also naturally present in the air as a gas and in living organisms.

2. FLUORIDE HELPS DETER CAVITIES FROM FORMING

Your tooth is in a persistent state of flux between remineralization and demineralization. It is this constant battle and balance that determines risk of tooth decay.

Remineralization

Our saliva contains minerals, calcium and phosphate, that help strengthen teeth enamel. Because our saliva constantly coats our teeth, the calcium and phosphate ions are always working to remineralize and harden enamel.

Demineralization

Everyone’s mouth contain bacteria, though its amount vary by person. After we finish eating, the bacteria in our mouth consume left over carbohydrates and sugars, producing acid in the process. This acid weakens and softens tooth enamel, causing tooth decay.

How Fluoride Helps

Fluoride increases ongoing remineralization process and slows down demineralization. Cavities occur when the rate of demineralization exceeds that of remineralization. Fluoride thus strengths teeth to help prevent tooth decay, and can even reverse tooth decay in its earliest stages.

3. IN-OFFICE FLUORIDE TREATMENT CAN REVERSE AND ERASE SMALL CAVITIES

As mentioned above, when demineralization is greater than remineralization, a cavity forms. A cavity in its earliest stages that is still contained within the enamel is known as a incipient lesion. These small cavities can be stopped and even reversed with in-office fluoride treatment and good oral hygiene at home consisting of daily brushing and flossing.

4. IN-OFFICE TOPICAL FLUORIDE VARNISH IS COST EFFECTIVE

Most dental insurances will cover professionally applied topical fluoride treatment twice a year. Considered a preventative service, the fluoride treatment usually has no out of pocket expense on your part and is usually covered at 100% by dental insurance. If it is not covered, the typical cost of in-office fluoride is usually less than the cost of a few coffee latte drinks. Regardless of the cost, it is more cost effective to apply fluoride than it is to have dental work.

5. IN-OFFICE FLUORIDE VARNISH IS GOOD FOR KIDS AND ADULTS

Fluoride does not discriminate! Fluoride helps with remineralization on any tooth surface and for people of all ages, from 6 months to 130 years old (assuming 130 years is the maximum lifespan of a healthy person!). Though everyone is different, those who are prone to cavities should get professional fluoride treatment, kids and adults.

Children are great candidates to have professionally applied fluoride treatments at the office. As kids mature and grow and learn to brush and floss better, the fluoride helps slow demineralization.

Developmentally disabled patients, and socially and economically challenged groups tend to have a greater incidence and prevalence of tooth decay. Due to the physical inability to adequately brush and floss, special need patients may have greater amounts of plaque and be at greater risk of developing cavities. Fluoride treatment can help lower said risk.

6. IN-OFFICE FLUORIDE TREATMENTS ARE COMPLETELY SAFE

Fluoride varnish applied at the office are prescription strength concentration and at higher strengths than that available over the counter. The dose though is safe and effective. Dental materials research show that professionally applied fluoride treatments can be safely applied up to 4 times a year.

Opponents of fluoride claim fluoride is toxic and unsafe.  Detrimental health claims such as increase in tumors, bladder cancer risk, hip fractures, widespread fluoride allergic reactions, and skeletal fluorosis have not been causally proven.

Yes, there is a risk with ingesting excessive fluoride. At home, kids and adults should use no more than a pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste per brushing session. Excessive ingestion of fluoride can result in dental and skeletal fluorosis; excessive fluoride toxicity can also cause vomiting and nausea, and emergency medical treatment must be sought immediately. However, provided the fluoride usage is directed and applied directly by your dental professional, such risk is minimal.

7. FLUORIDE TREATMENTS ARE NOT PAINFUL

Professional fluoride treatment at the dental office is simple, easy, non invasive, and quick. With fluoride varnish application, the varnish is painted directly on the teeth with a small soft brush. Another option aside from the varnish is a foam or gel that is placed in a soft tray, that soaks your teeth from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Afterwards the excess fluoride is suctioned off with a saliva ejector. Very safe, effortless, and painless.

8. YES, YOU CAN DRINK AND EAT AFTER FLUORIDE TREATMENTS

Your dental hygienist or dentist will typically apply fluoride on your teeth after a dental cleaning.  How long should one wait after professionally applied fluoride treatment? Some types of fluoride varnish require you wait 15 to 30 minutes before eating or drinking. Other types of varnish permit drinking cold water (no hot liquids) with eating after immediate application. Yet a few types require you leave the fluoride on for 4 to 6 hours before eating drinking.  Be sure to ask your dental hygienist what type of professional fluoride treatment was received.