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Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps rebuild tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. It’s in almost all of the food we eat, most tap water, and many toothpastes and mouth rinses. Recommended by numerous health professionals and organizations, the benefits of fluoride are backed up by over 50 years of research. During a fluoride treatment, topical fluoride is applied to the teeth. It’s absorbed into the enamel, which makes teeth more resistant to decay.
Your back teeth are especially rough and pitted, which is why food particles tend to stick there and cause tooth decay over time, even with proper brushing and flossing. A sealant is simply a coating that smooths out the surfaces on the back teeth, preventing food particles and bacteria from getting stuck in those grooves and pits.
Fluoride treatments and sealants are often used in conjunction to maximize the prevention of tooth decay.
Children and teenagers are great candidates for fluoride treatments and sealants. Adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from fluoride treatments and sealants.
Typically, children should get a sealant on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in, usually around the age of six. In rare cases, dental sealants are recommended for babies whose teeth have deep grooves or are cavity-prone, so they are not lost too early.
Applying a sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes just a few minutes and is normally done during a regular exam. Typically, the dental sealant application process involves four steps:
A fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office typically only takes a few minutes. The fluoride itself can come as a gel, foam, or varnish. It can be applied with a brush, swab, or held in place with a tray.
No matter the application or format, after your fluoride treatment, don’t eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes. This will prevent the fluoride from being washed away or rubbed off before it can be properly absorbed by your teeth.
A fluoride treatment can be applied as soon as teeth come in, but the amount of fluoride children consume needs to be monitored. With too much fluoride, kids can get a condition called fluorosis, which causes white spots on their teeth. There are other instances when a fluoride treatment may be recommended by your dentist, including:
Additionally, fluoride is available as a supplement and may be prescribed by your dentist. It’s available in drops and tablets. Drops are usually recommended for infants and toddlers, and tablets for children, teens and adults.
For children under 14 years of age, most insurance companies will reimburse sealants placed on permanent molars and fluoride treatments. Health savings accounts (FSA and HSA) also usually reimburse for these procedures. Like with any service or treatment, we’ll check your insurance benefits and let you know what is or isn’t covered.
Over an extended period of time, fluoride treatments and sealants help prevent costly dental treatments as a result of cavities, and minimizes tooth decay. It is important to note, however, that fluoride treatments and sealants are not a substitute for everyday brushing and flossing.
We recommend children get a fluoride treatment every six months during their bi-annual cleaning and exam. A sealant needs to be checked for chipping and wear during regular exams, but it can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years. Brushing and flossing twice a day will help a sealant last longer, and are the best things you can do for healthy teeth and gums.
We pride ourselves on treating every patient as an individual, providing exceptional care and customizing our services to meet their needs, regardless of their insurance situation.
“The staff was very kind and caring with my granddaughter and made her feel very comfortable. They took the time to show and explain everything they did. This was her first time with the dentist. She is 3.5 years old, and she was excited when done. Thank you to the staff for being kind and caring. I highly recommend MCDC for any young child. Thank you!”