What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities for people of all ages. It is also very effective in reducing tooth sensitivity due to gum recession and loss of enamel. Both over-the-counter and stronger dentist-prescribed gels and rinses are available.
There is fluoride in my toothpaste. Do I need an additional fluoride product for prevention and maintenance too?
There are several factors that can increase your risk of decay and tooth sensitivity. Those with many existing dental restorations (fillings and crowns) or gum disease are often sited, in particular, as benefitting from daily at-home fluoride application. Those with less saliva are more prone to cavities because saliva washes bacteria away. Patients with cancer and diabetes are also more prone to cavities. Those with teeth that are missing enamel at the gumline or very sensitive teeth that have been “deep cleaned” exposing more root of a tooth can benefit from fluoride to reduce sensitivity.
What is fluoride varnish?
Fluoride varnish is similar to the fluoride gel that is applied during your cleaning visit using special trays. In contrast, fluoride varnish will stay on the teeth for a few hours which multiplies its effectiveness. It will “wash off” after 4-6 hours by design as it is exposed to food, liquids, as well as the forces of the teeth and your jaw. This type of fluoride varnish can be applied to the entire mouth in about 2 minutes. It can be an economical way to treat sensitivity in adults and provides an additional tool that protects the teeth from cavities and sensitivity.
How is fluoride varnish beneficial for children?
It is widely known that fluoride prevents cavities and premature tooth loss in children. New advances in fluoride have helped to address other dental issues in children too. Fluoride varnish can be applied to teeth that are erupting (such as molars in children) and are difficult to clean or are still partially covered by the gums. It can also be used around orthodontic brackets to assist in fortifying the enamel and preventing cosmetic blemishes that sometimes develop. It is also recommended that children, who experience dry mouth due to medications or cancer treatment, consider additional fluoride as an adjunct to medical care.