Brushing and flossing are excellent habits for maintaining oral health. Another important part of keeping healthy teeth is getting enough fluoride. This naturally-occurring mineral helps to strengthen and repair teeth and prevent cavities (caries). Fluoride can be found in many foods, such as spinach, tomatoes, and grape juice. Most major cities now also fluoridate their public sources of water. For an added level of protection, fluoride can be applied topically at your dentist’s office.
The fluoride preparation used by dental offices is in a much stronger concentration than those found in toothpaste or mouth rinses. Getting teeth treated takes just a few minutes. The fluoride may be in the form of a gel, foam, or rinse. Gels and foams can be applied with a cotton swab or brush or placed in a tray that is held in the mouth for several minutes. Directly following the treatment, you’ll be advised not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the fluoride to fully be absorbed into the teeth and help repair microscopic carious areas.
Fluoride treatments are most commonly recommended for children, who are at a higher risk for cavities than adults. They may need reapplication every three, six, or 12 months. Even if teeth have been treated with fluoride, it is still important to floss daily and brush using a fluoridated toothpaste.