Why Do I need “Take Home” Fluoride?

Why do I need “take home” fluoride? Have you asked this question when your dental hygienist recommends this to add to your daily regimen?

Let’s get some history of fluoride application in dentistry, and put it in a nutshell.

First of all, fluoride occurs naturally in water; in some places in the US it is very high in content, and in other areas, it is almost non-existent. The benefits of fluoride in dentistry were first noted when questions were asked why some people in areas of Texas never experienced decay (cavities). Once research was done, and the natural occurance of fluoride in the water was noted, and the decreased incidence of decay was linked, a new approach for decay prevention was off and running. An effective amount of fluoride in the water was established, since the concentration can produce some staining of teeth when the level of fluoride is too high, and can have no effect if the level is too low. Then, fluoride was introduced into local drinking water. Its greatest benefit occured when teeth were in formative stages, prior to errupting, and also had a moderate effect upon already errupted teeth. The effort necessary to produce this public health benefit was great, and so was the result of the program. It is one of the most successful public health interventions in history regarding the erradication of a disease (dental decay, or cavities). Following this program was the introduction of fluoride in toothpaste.

OK, that is the Reader’s Digest version of the introduction of fluoride for the prevention of cavities.

Now, if you return to the original question, “why do  I need take home fluoride?”, there are some other details about applying fluoride to your teeth at home on a daily basis. You eat food and drink fluids every day and, depending on the sugars in those intakes, the end result will be an elevvated level of acid in your mouth for about 20 minutes until your body neutralizes these acids naturally. So, during those 20 minutes, the acids attack your tooth enamel, and this process is referred to Demineralization (taking minerals out of your teeth). When fluoride is applied, it aids in the process known as Remineralization (putting minerals back into your teeth). When these two processes are in balance, you stay healthy; however, if there is more Demineralization than Remineralization, tooth surfaces break down, and caviites occur.

Depending on your dental history and your quality of home care, your dental professional may recommend that you use a home applied fluoride to supplement your dental health. There may be several reasons for this. So, ask yourself these questions: Do you use a fluoridated toothpaste? Do you brush a minimum of two minutes at least twice per day? Do you use dental floss at least once per day? What is your family history regarding dental health?  Do you snack during the day? Do you drink soda (even the sugar-free kind)? Do you sip on coffee with sugar at your desk during work? How often are you ingesting sugar during the day? Do you feel as though you are doing everything you can, but you still get cavities? These are only a few of the questions that need to be answered when evaluating your need for a daily application of home fluoride. When you have had conversations with your dental hygienist and dentist, these are some of the areas that have resulted in the recommendation for using home fluoride.

So, the next time you are in your dental office for a check-up, be active in your conversation regarding your home care, and the many ways to improve your performance, and lower your experience with cavities. Plan for what your dental needs may be in your future.  Remember that you and your dentist are partners in deciding your dental future. After all, what else can impact your life as much regarding your enjoyment of meals, your conversations, your smile and, don’t forget, your kiss!

If you like this suggestion for planning for your dental health , contact us for an appointment: www.cherry-creekdentist.com