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Using Fluoride to Protect Your Teeth
You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and visit the dentist every six months, but did you know that rinsing with fluoride — a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay — also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong?
Fluoride is effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay by coating your teeth and preventing plaque from building up and hardening on the tooth's surface.
Fluoride comes in two varieties, topical and systemic:
- Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth and includes toothpastes and mouth rinses.
- Systemic fluorides are generally only used by your dentist and are not often available for at-home use. Systemic fluoride treatments are designed to help protect the oral health of children as they undergo dental procedures. Fluoride used in the dentist's or orthodontist's office is often a much stronger concentration than in toothpaste or mouthwash, but is available at some drug stores or a pharmacy. (Ask your dentist before purchasing professional strength fluoride.)
Receiving a fluoride treatment from your dentist
A fluoride treatment in your dentist's office takes just a few minutes. Afterwards, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor's recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as a mouthwash, gel, or antibacterial rinse.
How to choose the right fluoride treatment
When choosing your own at-home fluoride product (such as toothpaste or mouthwash), always check for the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined by the ADA, and approved on the basis of safety and effectiveness. Take care of your teeth and smile bright with dental fluoride treatments!