You may know you should delay eating after you have a fluoride treatment, but do you know why you should wait? And, do you know exactly how long you should wait? The answers may surprise you.
Fluoride is a natural substance found in the soil, water, and in plants. In the middle part of the 20th Century, scientists realized that fluoride could help strengthen tooth enamel and reduce the risk for tooth decay. Because tooth decay was a widespread issue, communities began to add fluoride to their drinking supply. Dentists began performing fluoride treatments to help improve the oral health of their patients – particularly their pediatric patients.
Fluoride Treatment Strengthens Enamel
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, according to the American Dental Association, largely because it contains minerals. In fact, tooth enamel is 96 percent mineral. These minerals, which are mostly calcium and phosphate, make tooth enamel strong.
Unfortunately, acids in the mouth can weaken enamel in a process known as demineralization. The loss of calcium, phosphate, and other minerals makes enamel softer, which makes the teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay.
The good news is that remineralization, or supplying your tooth enamel with minerals, can help prevent or slow down the demineralization process. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate, for example, and bathes the tooth enamel in these important minerals.
Tooth decay, also known as cavities or caries, occurs when demineralization occurs more often than remineralization. Because remineralization with saliva and fluoridated water is not always enough, dentists sometimes recommend fluoride treatments to ramp up remineralization. Preventive therapy with fluoride treatments helps your body fight cavities naturally. Fluoride also reduces tooth sensitivity.
When you drink water that contains fluoride, your body absorbs fluoride, which causes the level of fluoride to increase in your saliva. Toothpastes and professional fluoride treatments bathe the teeth in fluoride. Tooth enamel then absorbs the fluoride. Once inside your tooth enamel, fluoride combines with the calcium and phosphate there to form fluorapatite, a mineral that is much stronger and more resistant to acid and decay.
Fluoride Treatments Aren’t Just for Kids
While cavities are more common among children, people of all ages develop tooth decay, which makes professional fluoride treatments beneficial to anyone who has teeth. Even elderly patients who struggle with oral hygiene can benefit from fluoride treatments.
The fluoride treatments provided by dentists typically come in the form of a highly concentrated gel, foam, rinse, or varnish. These professional fluoride treatments contain much more fluoride than what is in your water or fluoridated toothpaste. Your dentist may apply the fluoride using a brush, swab, tray, or mouthwash; the entire procedure takes only a few moments – anyone can tolerate the treatment, from kids to seniors.
Eating after Fluoride Treatment
It is always important to follow any instructions your dentist provides after any procedure, of course, including any suggestions after a fluoride treatment. Fortunately, the instructions are usually simple – avoid having anything to eat or drink for at least 30 minutes after your fluoride treatment. This gives your teeth time to absorb the fluoride and begin the development of fluorapatite.
For best results, wait until bedtime to brush your teeth – you don’t want to brush the varnish off. Leaving the fluoride treatment in place gives your teeth the best advantage possible when it comes to protecting your teeth.
Schedule a Fluoride Treatment
Finding the right dentist is the first step in having healthy teeth. The next step is to schedule a fluoride treatment.
To keep your teeth healthy and looking their best, make an appointment with Triangle Dentistry. In addition to preventive dentistry services like fluoride treatments, we offer teeth whitening and other cosmetic dentistry services to create your appealing smile. Come see us at Triangle Dentistry today – we love new patients!
Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 847-6000