April 26, 2021

There’s cavity-fighting fluoride in our water, our toothpaste and our mouthwash, so why is your dentist recommending applying fluoride directly to your teeth during a periodic checkup?

At the office of Thumbs Up Dental, our patients learn why fluoride is so vital to our dental health how a quick and painless topical application provides an extra layer of protection for children and adults.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that makes our teeth more resistant to cavity-causing acids produced by harmful bacteria, and strengthens the enamel – the hard outer surface of our teeth – against the early stages of decay.

Brushing with toothpaste containing fluoride has been credited with significantly lowering cavities since 1960, and fluoride has been added to many of our public drinking water supplies for the past 70 years for the same reason.

But tooth decay remains the single most common chronic childhood disease, with cavities found in half of all 5- to 9-year-olds and most 17-year-olds, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The application of a topical fluoride can fortify not only a child’s baby teeth, but the permanent ones, too. Our dentists may also recommend fluoride treatment for adults who have been found to be at a higher risk for cavities.

Following a cleaning, topical fluoride can be painted right onto the surface of the teeth as a foam, gel or varnish, or it may be placed in a tray directly over the teeth for a short amount of time. Sometimes patients are instructed to wait a half hour afterward before eating or drinking to allow the fluoride to be absorbed into the teeths’ surface.