COLORADO SPRINGS — In our last story we talked about the beneficial role fluoride plays in keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Dr. Fred Guerra, DMD with Guerra Dental in Colorado Springs explained that most people receive fluoride systemically, through drinking water, toothpaste and mouth rinse.
In this story we’re talking about cases where fluoride can be topically applied in the dentist’s office, how it works and who it can benefit the most.
Dr. Guerra says, “The first thing we are doing for a patient in the office is a thorough risk assessment. A risk assessment in dentistry has been around for a long time. There is also something called evidence-based dentistry which all the scientific studies conclude for those patients that are in a higher risk category (of cavities) topically applying fluoride helps in reducing cavities.”
Dr. Guerra further explains, the risk factors are determined individually – by dentists or hygienists, and can range from younger patients who have a mix of baby and adult teeth, to people who take certain medications, or older patients who may need extra help maintaining the health of the enamel on their teeth.
Topically applied fluoride typically comes in three forms. Dr. Guerra says, “The topical fluoride comes in three types. There is a gel, and a foam, these are usually put in a tray where someone is usually biting for one to four minutes. Fluoride can also be topically applied by being painted on the them in this office. It’s a sodium fluoride delivery system that is faster and we use less of the material. There is also less taste and foaming in the mouth and it’s more readily acceptable by the patients and it’s more comfortable for us to apply. Again, the critical part is the assessment individually of the patient. We don’t apply fluoride topically to every patient that has a hygiene visit.”
So how exactly does fluoride benefit teeth? Dr. Guerra says, “There are cold hydroxyapatite crystals – without getting too technical – that are part of the composition of enamel. We are trying to prevent the enamel from breaking down and the fluoride ion gets incorporated into those crystals and strengthens the teeth and prevents demineralization. Demineralization is almost like when you take an ice cube out of the freezer. It’ll change it’s morphology or shape, put it back in the freezer and it can re-crystallize or remineralize. Teeth have a tendency to do that and we have actually seen some patients that have early cavity lesions, and with topically applied fluoride, very good oral hygiene, proper flossing and brushing and those early lesions will remineralize and we don’t need to drill on that particular tooth.”
If you have any questions about the health of your mouth, teeth and gums make sure to follow up with a dentist. Dr. Guerra says you’re always welcome to reach out to his office if you have any questions, by visiting their website HERE
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