This is a great question, and one I’ve heard many, many times while working at your West Seattle dentist, Dr. Christine Kirchner’s office. People seem to not want to use this simple, harmless solution to protect their teeth either because
a) it tastes gross
b) they can’t eat or drink for 30 min after wards and
c) a lot of insurance companies don’t cover it after you turn 18.
So here’s the skinny. Your body can get fluoride one of two ways: Systemically or topically. The body can receive fluoride systemically (meaning it’s swallowed) when you drink water from the tap. If you live in Seattle like we do, the water here is fluoridated (it contains fluoride). To go off on a tangent, it just blew my mind to find out that actually, in Washington state, the water is partially fluoridated by naturally occurring fluoride from the rocks that surround aquifers that provide drinking water! Crazy! With all of that fluoride coursing through your veins, it helps provide protection to your teeth from cavity causing bacteria. To get the maximum benefits from your water, if possible, don’t use a filter and don’t drink only bottled water. Both of these methods either filter out the fluoride or don’t even contain fluoride, which leads to you getting more cavities.
The other way your body receives fluoride is topically. This means that the fluoride is applied to the outside of your teeth directly either through a toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, or a fluoride treatment at the dentist office. The ADA recommends the best way to have fluoride help fight your cavity battle is to use it both systemically and topically.
But, you may be asking yourself, if you are drinking water like crazy, and using toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash that contains fluoride, why on earth should you pay the $40 out of pocket fee to have more fluoride applied to your teeth at the dentist office? Lets shrink down to a biological level to answer.
All over your teeth is a little protective film made by your saliva called the pellicle. During the course of your bi-annual (or tri-annual) cleaning, that layer is blasted, polished, and scraped away by the hygienist. This leaves your teeth exposed and naked, like a wee baby! Because of all of the activity your teeth just endured, the enamel tubules open up and are also exposed. In order to help regenerate the pellicle fast, ideally a super ultra concentrated fluoride treatment is given to you at the end. It helps rebuild that layer lickity split, and at the same time, enters the open enamel tubules, which strengthens the enamel and makes it more resistant to tooth decay. Seriously, I’d pay $40 for that to avoid hundreds of dollars for a filling.
As added incentive, fluoride these days is no longer the foam filled duckbill that you have to suck on but not swallow for 4 minutes(torture!!). Now days its a simple little gel that is brushed on to the teeth, and most of the time, you can eat and drink right after!
Interested in getting a fancy fluoride treatment? Give the office a call today to get scheduled for your check up, cleaning, and fluoride treatment!
Check back next week to find out how sports drinks and energy drinks effect your teeth in a bad bad way!