Cavities are a very common oral health condition that affects millions of individuals of all ages. They form as a result of tooth decay, which occurs when the acids produced by plaque and bacteria eat away at the protective enamel layer of your teeth. Once cavities form, treatment is needed right away. Fortunately, tooth decay and cavities can be prevented. While brushing and flossing, as well as routine dental cleanings, help to prevent decay from occurring, some individuals are more prone to decay than others. At West End Dental, we can help to prevent decay with fluoride treatments.
What are the Risk Factors for Tooth Decay?
There are a variety of different factors that can increase your risk of developing tooth decay.
|Poor oral hygiene practices. Brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental cleanings, are essential for removing plaque, bacteria, and the acids they produce from the surfaces of your teeth. Skipping out on any part of your oral hygiene routine can significantly increase your risk.
|Poor tooth alignment. If your teeth are not aligned properly, they can be difficult to keep clean. This leads to areas of plaque and bacteria buildup, which can then lead to tooth decay.
|Lifestyle habits like smoking, or using other tobacco products, and excessive alcohol consumption.
|Dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition in which your mouth does not have enough saliva. Without sufficient saliva, your mouth becomes an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Dry mouth can be caused by certain types of medications, drinking, or certain medical conditions.
What Exactly is Fluoride?
Fluoride is an element that occurs naturally in your teeth that plays an integral role in their strength. This particular element strengthens your tooth enamel, enabling this protective layer of your teeth to fight off acid erosion from plaque and bacteria as well as from different types of foods and beverages. Every single day, your teeth naturally lose fluoride, along with other minerals, in a process called demineralization. Fortunately, fluoride and other minerals can be replaced through remineralization. Fluoride can be found in trace amounts in treated water as well as certain types of foods. It can also be found in fluoridated oral care products. As long as you are replacing the same amount of fluoride as you are losing, your teeth can resist decay. However, if you are losing more than is being replaced, your teeth become vulnerable.
The Importance of Fluoride
Fluoride is essential for providing the teeth with strength, helping them to effectively fight off acid erosion and prevent tooth decay.
In some cases, fluoride can help to reverse early stages of decay. Once decay has turned into a cavity, it cannot be reversed. Instead, treatment with a filling is needed. Fluoride can help to prevent the formation of decay in the first place. In some instances, it can reverse the early stages of decay, before a cavity develops.
Getting Your Fluoride Treatment
Fluoride treatments are incredibly quick, easy, and completely painless. Following your cleaning, we apply a fluoride gel to the surfaces of your teeth. That is all there is to it. The fluoride in the gel absorbs directly into the enamel of your teeth, where it goes to work remineralizing your tooth enamel to provide your teeth with protection. It is recommended, however, that you abstain from eating or drinking anything for at least 30 minutes to ensure optimal results.
Fluoride treatments help to provide an additional layer of protection against the formation of tooth decay and cavities. They are only effective, however, with proper oral hygiene practices. For more information on fluoride treatments, and to find out if these treatments are right for you, call West End Dental at (503) 446-2957 today.