What Is Fluoride & Why Is It So Beneficial During Your Orthodontic Treatment?
Protecting your teeth during orthodontic treatment should be your number one goal. The last thing you want is white spots around where your braces brackets were or additional cavities that need to be addressed during your treatment. As you probably know, good oral hygiene habits, like brushing after eating and flossing regularly, keep your teeth in good health.
But, did you know that there is another powerful weapon you should be utilizing to help keep your teeth healthy and protected? Fluoride. This powerful compound should be a part of your orthodontic and dental treatment plan. But what is it? And why is it so important? Let’s take a look:
So What Is Fluoride Exactly?
A naturally-occurring mineral, fluoride is found in water (especially in the U.S.) and some foods. It is actually the 13th most abundant mineral on earth. Fluoride is also one of the minerals that make up your tooth’s enamel layer (outer surface), helping to safeguard your teeth from cavities and decay. So, isolated forms of fluoride are used to supplement the protective levels of fluoride that may have been lost from the teeth.
There are two varieties of fluoride: topical and systemic. Topical forms of fluoride are applied directly to your teeth, while systemic forms are instances where fluoride is part of your diet as a supplement (ie. fluorinated water). Either variety works to keep the minerals in your tooth enamel intact and further strengthens the tooth enamel.
How Fluoride Works To Protect Your Teeth
Fluoride is a powerful tool that is used to help maintain healthy teeth for adults, teens, and children. Fluoride, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), is one of the main reasons that tooth decay has significantly reduced over the last several decades. This mineral works to prevent tooth decay by fighting against things that can attack the enamel on your teeth and lead to tooth decay.
Source: Verywell Health
Things like sugar and plaque create acid that causes the tooth’s enamel layer to lose important minerals, which is known as demineralization. This is what can cause the white spots on your teeth. So, fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by speeding up remineralization (the redeposit of important minerals in your teeth) and making your teeth more resistant to harmful acids, and can even reverse early decay.
During orthodontic treatment, specifically braces, your risk of tooth decay is higher. Fluoride is excellent at helping to prevent demineralization and decalcification that can occur around the brackets on your teeth, as well as around other appliances. Brushing and flossing thoroughly around your orthodontic appliances can sometimes be tough. Fluoride works to fight against the plaque and sugars that may be hiding in places that can’t be cleaned easily.
Ways To Work Fluoride In During Treatment
There are several ways to work in more fluoride during your orthodontic treatment to help provide your teeth with the protection they need.
The most common form of fluoride is the topical foam or varnish that is applied by your dentist or orthodontist directly to your teeth. This has the highest concentration of fluoride and usually only takes a few minutes to apply after your regular teeth cleaning. Once applied, it is recommended that you do not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes in order for the teeth to be able to fully absorb the fluoride. These in-office fluoride treatments can be recommended every three, six, or 12 months, depending on the current health of your teeth and your dental hygiene habits.
Other topical forms include fluoride toothpaste, gel, mouthwash, or antibacterial rinse for at-home treatment. Many of these are prescription-based that your orthodontist or dentist can provide for you. Very commonly, during your orthodontic treatment, you will be prescribed some of these at-home products to work into your dental hygiene routine to help keep your teeth protected in-between cleanings.
There are also some over the counter fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes that are available at your local grocery or drug store. Keep in mind, these over the counter products will not have as strong a concentration of fluoride as the ones you get from your dental professionals. If you are buying your own over the counter fluoride product, be sure to look for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval. This seal indicates that the product has been carefully examined and has met the ADA’s criteria for safety and effectiveness.
Finally, fluoride is also available as a supplement in liquid and tablet form that is prescribed by your dentist, doctor, or pediatrician.
Your orthodontist and dentist can help determine, depending on your oral health, which method or type of fluoride product might be the best fit for you.
Boost Your Oral Health With Fluoride
As you can see, fluoride offers powerful protection for your teeth against decay and helps keep your teeth healthy, especially during orthodontic treatment where adequate teeth cleaning can be tough. That is why here at Cook & Gutsche Orthodontics, we recommend the use of fluoride during active treatment.
Your orthodontist will help determine which form of fluoride is best for your teeth, as well as how often it should be used. Start working fluoride into your routine today!
If you have questions about fluoride during your orthodontic treatment or are interested in learning more about how we can help you achieve the beautiful smile you are looking for, contact our office today. We are here to help!