Fluoride In North York, ON
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral essential for proper tooth development. Whether ingested (systemic) or applied (topical), fluoride molecules are incorporated into the structure of dental enamel. Dental enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It is crystalline in structure and its primary mineral is hydroxyapatite, which is a crystalline calcium phosphate. When fluoride is incorporated, the resulting crystal structure is called “fluorohydroxyapatite.” Fluorohydroxyapatite creates a much denser and less soluble crystalline structure. Hence, it does not dissolve as easily in the event of an acid attack by dental plaque bacteria.
Systemic fluoride is fluoride that one ingests, from foods or water. Systemic fluoride is only valuable for infants and children whose teeth are developing in the jawbone. When fluoride is ingested, it enters the bloodstream and is deposited into the structure of the developing teeth. These teeth will be harder and much more resistant to the development of dental caries than a tooth that developed without systemic fluoride. For this reason, fluoride is added to the drinking water in Toronto. The amount of fluoride in our drinking water has been shown to be very effective at reducing dental caries and does not cause any illness because it is a very low dose.
As Dr. Shiewitz likes to say, the only difference between a medication and a poison is dosage! In excessive amounts, of course fluoride can be associated with problems such as dental fluorosis (mottled appearance of teeth), problems with bones and at high doses can be toxic, as can any medication used incorrectly. The amount used in fluoridated water is at a level optimal for caries prevention but low enough that it does not cause problems.
Topical fluoride is fluoride that is applied to the surface of teeth in the mouth, such as from fluoridated toothpastes, or fluoride application at our North York dental office. This fluoride can penetrate up to 20 microns deep. This renders the enamel more resistant to the acid attack of plaque bacteria, which is the first step in the development of dental caries (cavities.)
Dr. Shiewitz recommends using a fluoridated toothpaste at home. This tiny amount of topical fluoride is very helpful in cavity prevention when used in conjunction with a thorough and consistent oral hygiene routine.
Who Can Benefit From Fluoride?
Topical fluoride treatments are important for those patients who are known to be cavity prone or have significant risk of developing dental caries. The bacteria that cause dental caries are typically passed from parent to child when the child's teeth start to erupt. A family history of a parent getting a lot of cavities is a known risk factor for a child.
Also, as we age, our saliva quality and quantity decreases. Saliva helps protect from caries development. A lack of good quality saliva increases our risk of getting cavities. Dry mouth can be a result of aging. But also, many medications can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is a huge risk factor for the development of aggressive dental caries. Topical fluoride applications at the dental office are often recommended for the elderly population.
Dr. Shiewitz recommends fluoride treatment based on the risk assessment for caries of each individual patient. This assessment is based on many factors such as: history of dental caries, how long since the last dental carious lesion was treated or developed, how many current carious lesions, number of existing fillings (restorations), oral hygiene, family history, exposure to systemic fluoride from drinking water during childhood, current medications, and presence of a dry mouth.
Ask Dr. Shiewitz about fluoride treatments at your next visit to our North York, ON dental office!