Because some insurance plans don’t cover the cost of fluoride treatments for patients older than 13 or 14 years, parents have to decide if they want to pay for the treatment out-of-pocket. Therefore, some parents come to me asking these questions: Is it necessary to apply it? Is it good? Is it worth it? What is it?
Fluoride is an element of the halogen group that has a great capacity of chemical reaction. Therefore, in the presence of calcium and phosphate on oral cavity, Fluorapatita is formed on the surface of teeth, which strengthens mineralization and hardens the tooth enamel.
Fluorine is the gel which is applied after cleanings. I joke with my patients by telling them that we are going to apply "the vitamin" because it is part of a therapy to help prevent cavities. Since the Fluoride has the following two basic mechanisms of protective action against caries:
- Low level of fluoride inhibits dental caries by affecting the metabolic activity of cariogenic bacteria and enhances the remineralization of demineralized enamel.
- High levels of fluoride, such as those attained with the use of topical gels or varnishes, produce a temporary layer of calcium fluoride which hardens on enamel surface and serves as protection against acids.
Fluoride is present not only in toothpastes, mouthwashes or varnishes but also in drinking water of many cities of the United States.
A 1945 study, was the first implementation of fluoridation of drinking water systems in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, findings that this practice, could reduce by more than 50% the incidence of tooth decay in children. Since then the practice has spread and has proven that water fluoridation in cities is efficient and cost effective, because it contributes to the reduction of dental caries and this has been one of the greatest achievements in the public health system.
I advise you to always buy toothpaste with fluoride. There are toothpastes with different concentrations of fluorine, those with a high fluorine content are prescribed by pediatric dentist and are usually used to improve remineralization therapy of the so-called white spots on teeth. In other cases, it is recommended when the decay is still superficial so it is suggested, as a conservative therapy. The application of toothpaste with a high content of calcium and phosphate to stop the advance of caries (known as arrested caries) may be indicated, all these examples depend on the needs of each patient.
It is advisable to choose a mouthwash that contains fluoride, there are certain brands on the market with this option. Therefore, is important to have in mind that this gel which is called fluorine (or vitamin) should be applied at each appointment for dental cleaning which, is done every 3 months in children under 3 years old and every 6 months for children over 3 years old, and depending on each case. However, it is recommended that parents closely monitor the brushing of their children under 6 years old, since they tend to swallow toothpaste, producing gastric symptoms of TOXICITY. Fluoride therapy is very important and really worth it, but like everything, should be applied according to the needs of each patient, to the extent that your Dentist deems necessary.
Maria Calcina, DDS