Fluoride (as you probably already know) is a substance that, when incorporated into the surface of your teeth, makes them more resistant to decay. This can be done in many ways from drinking fluoridated water (if your community drinking water supply is fluoridated) to taking a prescription fluoride supplement when it isn't to brushing with fluoride toothpaste to using a fluoride rinse as Dr. McArdle will recommend to you. There are even prescription toothpastes with boosted levels of fluoride available if your decay rate is unusually high.
Research has shown that fluoride works most effectively to prevent decay of your teeth topically (from the outside in), not from the inside out through your bloodstream during tooth formation as was previously thought. This is why fluoride is just as effective for fully formed adult teeth as it is in children whose teeth are developing. Because of this, the more often and deeply that fluorides are applied to your teeth topically, the more resistant to decay they will be. There are no health risks associated with topical fluoride application as recommended.
Drinking fluoridated water or taking fluoride supplements are the most effective household means of delivering fluoride to the surfaces of your teeth because it is released in your saliva, which continually bathes your teeth with the fluoride. This constant, albeit modestly invasive, exposure creates an external layer of fortified enamel that renders these methods so useful. Other prescription and non-prescription means of fluoride delivery (toothpastes, rinses etc.) though helpful, are less so because they only supply fluoride to your teeth during use and for a short time after. The one exception to this is a fluoride treatment performed here in our office.
The fluoride treatments that we provide for you here in our office (in the form of either gels or varnishes) are uniquely effective because they permit significantly greater incorporation of the fluoride into the surfaces of your teeth creating a broader layer of decay-resistant tooth structure. The reason for this is that the fluoride gels that we use in these treatments contain a weak acid (weaker than those used to lighten your teeth with our in-office bleaching process) that allows for a more extensive infiltration of the fluoride into your teeth. The fluoride varnishes we also use adhere to the surfaces of your teeth more tenaciously than any other such product on the market. No other fluoride preparations achieve so great a degree of saturation, which is why no other types are as effective.
Professional strength fluoride gels... ... are applied in our office using these trays.
These treatments can only be performed under the supervision of our staff as with the in-office bleaching process because of the potential consequences of misapplication. The trays with which we distribute the fluoride gel over your teeth minimize its contact with the soft tissues of your mouth, limiting irritation and possible chemical burns. The suction tip we insert with the trays prevents swallowing of the gel and removes most of what oozes beyond the margins of the trays.
We urge all patients with a high decay rate and those who do not have fluoridated drinking water at home to have fluoride treatments performed after every cleaning here in our office. The only exception to this is for those patients who have experienced no or exceptionally little decay of their adult teeth. If you have any questions about fluoride and fluoride treatments or how this subject may relate to you, please ask Dr. McArdle.
REMEMBER, NO TREATMENT IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN PREVENTION!