Preventive Dentistry and Fluoride
As pediatric dentists, we place a large emphasis on the prevention of dental disease. This includes topics like diet counseling, oral hygiene instruction, in-office dental prevention, and of course, the proper use of fluoride. Through these means, we can establish a patient’s caries (cavity) risk and tailor and individual dental plan to help prevent dental problems for our patients.
What Is Preventive Dentistry and Fluoride?
Preventive Dentistry is simply using all the tools in our dental tool kit to help prevent the progression of dental disease. This involves proper brushing and flossing techniques and schedules. It involves instruction for eating and drinking the right things at the right times to decrease our chances of dental decay. It can include the use of dental sealants and the use of fluoride products to strengthen teeth and to keep plaque out of the hard to reach areas of a tooth.
Fluoride is a natural occurring element. The use of fluoride to help prevent dental decay was established by observing the lower cavities rate of communities where fluoride was naturally higher in their drinking water. Today we use many different forms of fluoride to help strengthen teeth and slow the acid producing power of dental plaque.
Fluoride works through a process known as remineralization. When we eat cariogenic (cavity creating) foods, the bacteria in our mouths, known as plaque, produce acid. This acid is a key ingredient in the progression of dental decay. The acid pulls valuable minerals out of the tooth such as calcium. This weakens the structure of the tooth and leads to the softening of the enamel. If this process continues, decay (cavities) occur. The body naturally heals teeth as the acid levels decrease in the mouth. This process is called remineralization. Calcium and other substances are taken back into the tooth as the pH (acidity) of the mouth returns to normal levels. Fluoride is taken back into the tooth at this time. When fluoride binds to the tooth it makes the enamel stronger than calcium. The tooth is then less likely to lose minerals during the demineralization process. This is why topically applying fluoride to teeth is so important.
We proudly recommend the use of Silver Diamine Fluoride for certain situations to slow or even stop the progression of tooth decay. Silver Diamine Fluoride or SDF is a safe and cost effective way to temporarily extend the time needed for a tooth to be restored. Most teeth will still need to be fixed; however, Silver Diamine Fluoride is great to use with patients who have difficulty cooperating in the office without the use of dental sedation or general anesthesia.
Why Preventive Dentistry and Fluoride?
Fluoride is just one tool in our dental toolbox that can be used to prevent dental decay. It can also be used to slow the process of cavity formation. We have many different forms and ways of applying fluoride to help our patients. It all starts with the use of a fluoride toothpaste at home that is used twice daily. This will give your child the best foundation for strong and healthy teeth. Regularly applying topical fluoride to teeth at cleaning appointments only increases a child’s chance of staying cavity free.
How do utilize Preventive Dentistry and Fluoride?
Preventive habits are something to be done daily. It starts with making great decisions with oral care and diet for our children. It involves helping our children to learn to brush and floss their teeth properly and checking to make sure they are doing a great job. We encourage parents to take an active roll in their children’s oral habits by helping them to brush into their elementary school years.
In our office, your child will receive oral hygiene instruction, a oral hygiene grade, and a lot of help and encouragement during their cleaning visits. We believe in sealing adult molars as soon as possible in most cases. We will make diet recommendations and even counseling on when to consume treats and sweets. We advocate the use of fluoride at each cleaning appointment to help strengthen enamel for both baby and adult teeth. This is especially important as new teeth come in.
Our preferred fluoride application is fluoride varnish. Fluoride varnish is a sticky fluoride paint that is applied to the teeth at the very end of our cleaning appointments. This will stick directly to teeth and slowly spread out and soak into the teeth following our appointment. With this form of fluoride, patients can eat and drink immediately. No need to wait 30 minutes! We ask that patients do not wipe off the varnish or brush their teeth for 3 hours. Avoiding hot liquids such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate for 3 hours will also ensure the maximum amount of fluoride is incorporated into the teeth.
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is applied to cavities to slow the progression of the lesion. This is done by drying the area, applying Silver Diamine Fluoride, and repeating. This is painless and easy for most patients. This will turn the decayed area black in color. This signifies the SDF is working well. The darker the color, the better likelihood the cavity is no longer active. We use Silver Diamine Fluoride mainly in back teeth and rarely would recommend this for front teeth, because of the dark color.
Who benefits from Preventive Dentistry and Fluoride?
We believe all patients benefit from prevention and the application of fluoride.
When is preventive dentistry and fluoride recommended?
We recommend prevention every day, multiple times. Prevention in dentistry becomes a way of life rather than an occasional practice. It becomes a part of your daily rituals and decision-making processes. Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, drinking water rather than soda, saying no to another piece of candy, or putting your child to bed with a cup of water are all ways we live dental prevention.
When at our office, we educate and use prevention constantly. We apply fluoride at least every 6 months, we take dental radiographs annually to evaluate dental disease progress, and we teach children proper oral hygiene techniques at each cleaning visit. We recommend and place dental sealants as soon as a patient is ready. We will even see patients with high caries (cavity) risks more frequently to ensure we are staying ahead of the disease.
Where do you receive preventive dentistry and fluoride?
Monday – Friday at our office; Pediatric Dentistry of Noblesville.