Fluoride is a natural element that can be found in many things, like the water we drink and the food we eat. Decades ago, scientists began to notice that children, who lived in places where fluoride occurred naturally in the water, had fewer dental cavities. Fluoride that is absorbed by your body is used by the cells that build your teeth to make stronger enamel. Topical fluoride - fluoride that is applied to the outside of the enamel - makes the crystals that form enamel more durable. Tooth enamel crystals that have fluoride are much more resistant to acid. They are less likely to breakdown and cause the tooth surface to become porous.
Fluoride therapy is the delivery of fluoride to the teeth topically or systemically in order to prevent tooth decay (dental caries) which results in cavities. Most commonly, fluoride is applied topically to the teeth using gels, varnishes, toothpaste/dentifrices or mouth rinse. Systemic delivery involves fluoride supplementation using water, salt, tablets or drops which are swallowed. Tablets or drops are rarely used where public water supplies are fluoridated.
Indications for fluoride therapy
The individual's risk factors and the reason for treatment will determine which method of fluoride delivery is used. Consult with a dentist before starting any treatment.
- White spots.
- Moderate to high risk patients for developing decay.
- Active decay.
- Orthodontic treatment.
- Additional protection if necessary for children in areas without fluoridated drinking water.
- To reduce tooth sensitivity.
- Protect root surface.
- Decreased salivary flow.
- Institutionalized patients.
Sodium Fluoride is the commonest gel used for topical application. This gel is filled in pre fabricated special fluoride trays and placed in the upper and lower jaws after thorough cleaning and drying of teeth. This gel is left in place for 60 seconds. After application, you should not rinse your mouth or consume ANYTHING - liquid or solid - for 30 minutes. Procedure is most effective if done once in 6 months - specially in kids up to the age of 14 years.