Every day, your tooth enamel loses the minerals that make it strong. Acid and bacteria from foods and beverages degrade your enamel, causing cavities that make your teeth susceptible to infection.
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all bodies of water, including oceans and rivers, and also in a number of foods. Dentists treat children’s teeth with fluoride and recommend that everyone brush twice daily with a toothpaste that contains fluoride to counteract the demineralization process.
Your teeth use the fluoride in foods, water, and toothpaste to remineralize protective enamel. Fluoride not only prevents tooth decay by strengthening your enamel, but it also can reverse early damage by sealing microscopic cracks and flaws.
Most adults get enough fluoride from good dental habits, fluoride toothpaste, and fluoridated water. But some women and men are at moderate to severe risk of tooth loss due to weakened enamel. Dr. Padmaja Yalamanchili, an expert and compassionate dentist in Fairfax, Virginia, recommends regular fluoride gel or foam treatments to women and men who fall into one or more risk categories:
You’ve had a lot of cavities and fillings
If you have at least 1-2 cavities a year, Dr. Yalamanchili recommends strengthening your enamel with fluoride treatments. She also helps you develop healthier oral health habits to keep your teeth and gums clean.
Even if you haven’t had a cavity in a while, you could benefit from regular fluoride treatments if you have a lot of fillings. Previous cavities and fillings weaken your teeth, making them more susceptible to infection.
You have dry mouth
Saliva helps wash away food particles after you eat and also protects your enamel from acid. You may have dry mouth, or xerostomia, because of a medical condition, as a side effect of certain medications, or as a side effect of cancer treatment, particularly for head or neck cancer.
You have recessed gums or periodontitis
When your gums erode because of poor oral health habits or — conversely — overzealous brushing, your tooth roots are exposed to oral bacteria and acid. Gum disease, such as periodontitis and gingivitis, also increases your risk for tooth decay.
You wear braces or have dental bridges or crowns
Traditional metal or acrylic bracket-and-wire braces prevent your toothbrush from fully cleansing your teeth. The area where a crown meets the underlying supportive tooth or where a dental bridge connects to your teeth is also vulnerable.
You have an eating disorder
Eating disorders such as bulimia expose your teeth to excess acid due to vomiting and other behaviors. If you or your child has an eating disorder, please let Dr. Yalamanchili know so she can help protect your teeth and refer you to a specialist.
You suffer from poor nutrition or lack of access to a dentist
If you, a family member, or another loved one isn’t able to maintain good oral health due to economic difficulties, impairments, or poor nutrition, fluoride treatments help rebuild tooth strength. Women and men who abuse alcohol or drugs are also at a higher risk of tooth damage.
You chew on non-food objects
Bad habits — such as nail-biting and chewing on ice or the backs of pens and pencils — cause microscopic damage to your teeth. Break your bad habits to keep your teeth safe. We also recommend fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth to prevent further damage.
If you or a loved one is at moderate to severe risk for degraded enamel, contact Padmaja Yalamanchili, DDS, PC, to schedule a fluoride treatment. Phone us today or book your appointment online.