The Fluoride Factor

Fluoride is excellent at slowing, stopping and even reversing decay.

Ideally, a fluoride treatment provides a prolonged exposure of tooth surfaces to fluoride without it being absorbed elsewhere into the body. Special varnishes that contain concentrated fluoride appear to do this according to multiple recent research reports.

Fluoride varnishes are made of high concentrations of fluoride mixed with fast-drying natural resins or varnishes. While these varnishes are getting a lot of attention in research today, they have been used throughout Europe for the last 30 years, have been available in Canada for many years and were recently approved for use by dentists in the United States in 1995.

A recent review of European research revealed huge reductions in cavities in those patients who received fluoride varnish treatments.

Fluoride varnishes are painted onto your teeth after they have been cleaned and dried and quickly harden to a clear or slightly yellowish film. Then slowly release fluoride to the teeth where it prevents decay by blocking acid from dissolving the hard outer enamel surface of the teeth. In fact, with fluoride varnishes the fluoride interacting with minerals present in your salvia will repair small, early cavities forming in teeth. Further, the higher concentration of fluoride found in these varnishes can actually stop the growth of dental plaque bacteria and even kill the most damaging species of decay-causing bacteria in plaque. These formulations are very safe due to their fast-setting times and slow, site-specific fluoride release. No toxic effects have ever been noted.

Clinical studies have proven that varnishes can supply fluoride more efficiently than other forms of fluoride treatment. These studies support the administration of fluoride varnishes every three to six months for most patients.

Children, especially those who are susceptible to Early Childhood Caries (decay) or ECC should have three applications of fluoride varnish each year. Without fluoride the average child can be expected to develop 1.09 cavities per year.

The most effective treatment appears to come from 3 applications of fluoride varnishes provided over a one-week period, once per year. Children who are known to have ECC are recommended to have this treatment schedule.

I believe strongly in the advantages of fluoride varnishes and offer this information and treatment to all my patients. The low cost versus the high benefits make this treatment very compelling.

Perhaps the only negative to fluoride varnishes is the slight yellowish discolouration that is noticeable for about two days after the treatment. In most cases, especially in adults, it is not necessary to apply the varnish where it may show in a smile.

How much fluoride is enough?

Children under 6 months receive the fluoride they need from breast milk or formula. For most children over 6 months, a fluoride intake of between 0.6 mg and 1.0 mg per day has been proven to reduce (but not eliminate) tooth decay. This reduction is both in the total number of cavities and the size and speed of decay progression.

If you use the regular Toronto water supply for drinking and cooking you and your child will receive sufficient fluoride. This remains true even if you use simple water filtration systems such a Brita. If you use reverse osmosis water purification, you should seriously consider fluoride supplements as directed by the following table:

Dosage of Daily Fluoride for Children at Risk for Decay

Age                                               Supplement Dose

0-6 months                                    None

6 months - 3 years                         0.25 mg/day

3 - 6 years                                     0.50 mg/day

Over 6 years                                  1.00 mg/day

Just the right amount of fluoride is greatly beneficial to the human body however too much can be detrimental. Just as vitamins A and D are essential for good health but too much of them can cause disease. This does not mean that you should avoid fluoride altogether, it just means that care needs to be taken to make sure that we ingest only the right amount. Pre-school children for example usually swallow approximately one third of the toothpaste on their brush. If this toothpaste contains typical amounts of fluoride in it, it will mean that the child will be consuming too much fluoride.

At Dentistry Asleep®,Dr. Kevin Dann offers dental hygiene services, routine dental care for adults and children, periodontal and endodontic therapy,  cosmetic dental procedures and dental implants. Dr. Dann is one of the few Certified Specialists in Dental Anaesthesia, giving complete, comfortable care to all his valued patients. Enjoy experienced, anxiety-free dental healthcare!  Make your appointment now!

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