Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in certain foods and in some water supplies. It has been extensively studied and researched during the past 50 years, and its main benefit is the fact that it is able to strengthen tooth enamel which is the hard outer surface of your teeth. Fluoride does this by making the tooth enamel more resistant to acid attack. Your mouth becomes more acidic every time you eat something due to the presence of plaque bacteria, and the acid can weaken tooth enamel making it more susceptible to decay. This means fluoride is very good at helping to protect against tooth decay.
If you live in an area of Leeds were fluoride isn’t naturally present in the water supply then it may have been added to municipal drinking water systems in a process called fluoridation. It’s essential that children receive sufficient amounts of fluoride while their teeth are developing up to the age of about seven. If you have young children this is something Dr David Brown or another member of the dental team can advise you about as it’s also important to make sure they don’t receive too much fluoride! Parents should always supervise their children while they are brushing their teeth and should make sure they spit out excess toothpaste rather than swallowing.
Our dentist Leeds generally recommends brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and if we think you’re particularly prone to tooth decay we may suggest additional fluoride treatments. This may be in the form of mouthwash or gels, or tablets containing high concentrations of fluoride. Another treatment that may be offered at Leeds City Dentalcare is fluoride varnish, a substance containing high levels of fluoride that is painted onto the surfaces of the teeth every six months or so, helping to increase the strength of the tooth enamel.
Although fluoride is excellent at helping to strengthen tooth enamel it’s also important that children up to the age of eight don’t receive too much as it can affect the way their teeth develop, causing a condition called dental fluorosis. Most cases of fluorosis are very mild and simply cause the teeth to look as if they have been flecked with white, but occasionally excess fluoride can cause brown or black stains to develop in the teeth and can even create pits in the enamel. The critical time for exposure is between one and four years of age, and after the age of eight it’s generally not a problem. Dental fluorosis isn’t caused by fluoride that’s topically applied, but rather fluoride that is ingested.
Treatment for Dental Fluorosis
Dental fluorosis is something that can be treated by Dr David Brown or another of the cosmetic dentists here in our Leeds surgery. The exact treatment may depend on the extent of the fluorosis. Although teeth whitening might seem like an obvious treatment, it’s not always successful and can cause the white flecks on teeth to look even brighter. There are other ways of treating dental fluorosis, including bonding the teeth or using porcelain veneers in Leeds to cover up the stains. Other methods of treatments include micro abrasion which is where a minute amount of the tooth enamel is abraded away before fluoride is topically applied.