CLEANINGS / FLUORIDE TREATMENT
Some foods and drinks we consume lead to plaque buildup that wears away the minerals protecting our teeth. Proper care at home can reduce this buildup and replenish some of the minerals, but you’ll also need a dentist to perform a more thorough cleaning to get rid of plaque that may be hidden or hard to reach. In more severe cases, a fluoride treatment will be necessary to replenish lost minerals and help protect teeth that are high risk for tooth decay.
Brushing your teeth regularly, avoiding sugary or acidic foods and drinks, and getting regular checkups from our local Houston dentist and hygienists will go a long way toward maintaining a healthy mouth.
In general, cleanings remove plaque (the sticky film on teeth) and help restore some of the minerals lost over time. As we age, the enamel layer of our teeth wears down and our teeth look more yellowish, even with regular brushing. In addition to routine professional cleanings, teeth whitening services can improve the coloring of teeth by removing stains or discoloration from lack of care. Some foods and drinks like grapes, blueberries, wine, tea, coffee, and cola can cause teeth to stain. Some medications can also cause staining, but this staining can occur within the tooth, making it more difficult to treat. But you can keep those pearly whites as white as can be with simple treatments.
Fluoride is a mineral that is often found naturally in some foods and water. This mineral acts as a shield for your teeth by protecting it from acids which break down and remove minerals, and eventually, cause tooth decay. When you eat food, drink water, or brush your teeth with fluoride, you are replenishing this shield on your teeth, also known as the process of remineralization. When you drink sodas, acidic juices, and eat or drink anything sugary, the minerals in the enamel of teeth (fluoride, calcium, and phosphate) are broken down and removed. Once this shield is gone, the tooth begins to decay.
A fluoride treatment uses a higher concentration of fluoride than you would find in your toothpaste or mouthwash. The treatment only lasts a few minutes and involves cleaning the teeth before applying the fluoride, typically in a gel, solution, foam, or varnish form. The fluoride is applied using a swab or brush, and sometimes applied like a rinse. These treatments are primarily used for people who have signs of tooth decay, and they may be recommended on a 3-12 month cycle.
Take care not to overdo it on fluoride, though, as fluoride can be harmful in high doses – the “high dose” varies by weight of the person ingesting it. Overusing fluoride for teeth cleaning or having high concentrations in water can also lead to discoloration of teeth.