What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring ion of the element fluorine. Fluoride is found naturally in rocks and seawater, as well as in many everyday foods and drinks including tea, fish and raisins.
How fluoride works and what it’s used for
In dentistry fluoride is used in fluoride therapy to help to prevent dental decay. Dental decay is one of the most prevalent health condition in America, with 91% of Americans over the age of 20 having had dental decay at some point in their lives. Dental decay can have significant consequences, especially if left untreated. These consequences include loss of teeth, cellulitis (a potentially serious bacterial skin infection), septicaemia (blood poisoning) and even death.
Fluoride works to prevent dental decay in a number of ways. These include:
- Strengthening the enamel coating of teeth to make the surfaces of teeth more resistant to the acid which decay causing bacteria produce
- Preventing bacteria from producing acid by preventing their uptake of sugar
- Reducing the ability of bacteria to stick to tooth surfaces
- Altering the shape of developing teeth to make them easier to clean
Is fluoride safe?
Yes. There has been extensive scientific research looking into the safety of fluoride. The overwhelming weight of evidence shows that fluoride when used at recommended levels in drinking water, toothpastes and mouthwashes and professional applications is safe and effective.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of fluoride varnish?
We pride ourselves on ensuring that the oral health care we provide to our valued patients represents the gold standard in currently available care. Our friendly, knowledgeable oral health practitioners can apply a fluoride varnish as part of your preventive oral health care. Fluoride varnishes have a number of advantages to our patients:
- May help to reduce tooth sensitivity
- Reduced discomfort vs older tray delivered fluoride
- Quicker application vs older tray delivered fluoride
- Highly effective in preventing dental decay in baby and adult teeth
The main disadvantage of fluoride varnish is the need to avoid eating or drinking for a few hours after application. In some rare situations, people may have an allergic reaction to one or more components of the fluoride varnish.