Fluoride is an essential mineral for healthy teeth, and it can be found naturally in most water sources. But for those who don't have regular access to a dentist, adding small amounts of fluoride to tap water can be especially beneficial. Fluoride has an additional electron that helps it adhere to the calcium in the tooth, strengthening the enamel coating. When patients are at moderate to high risk, it's important to explain why fluoride would be beneficial depending on the risk factors.
Fluoride gel, foam or rinse solution works immediately, strengthening the enamel of each tooth and attacking bacteria that can cause a lot of problems. But is getting fluoride treatment at the dentist worth it? Before fluoride was added to toothpaste, studies found that people with fluoridated water were 40 to 60 percent less likely to have tooth decay. If you use toothpaste or mouthwash that has the recommended levels of fluoride, you'll be well on your way to keeping the bad guys at bay. Fluoride concentrations can also vary between different varnishes, and there are highly effective topical treatment alternatives.
Sealants protect teeth well, especially those that are difficult to access in the back of the mouth. Even better are sealants with a glass ionomer, which releases fluoride, as opposed to resin-based sealants, which don't. Sealants are more difficult to apply than varnishes, but they are still effective for two to three years. Silver diamine fluoride has also gained popularity and is very effective in stopping cavities, but more research is needed on its preventive effect.
It can also discolor teeth, but that's not much of a concern for preschoolers who haven't yet lost their primary teeth. If you find yourself in any of these situations, it's best to get fluoride treatment every time you visit your dentist, or at least once a year. Everyone needs a certain amount of fluoride, but if you have healthy teeth, you'll probably get enough in your daily toothpaste and tap water. Your dentist may only take a short time, but the long-term benefits of regular fluoride treatment are enormous.
A new study conducted by two researchers from the University of Washington and their colleagues questions the cost-effectiveness of fluoride varnish for preschool children and describes its anti-caries effects as “modest and uncertain in this age group”. They examined trials in which fluoride varnish was used alone or in an oral health program, and they also verified the results of using fluoride varnish compared to placebo, routine care, or lack of treatment.
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