With half of the world’s population affected by tooth decay, you must protect your teeth by maintaining excellent oral hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist. You may have heard that fluoride is an essential component of dental care, but since most medical insurances do not cover for fluoride treatment, is it worth paying for fluoride when you visit the dentist?
Before you pay for a fluoride treatment out-of-pocket, you’ll want to assess the pros and potential costs of dedicating room in your budget to dental-hygiene treatments. As you review this list, remember that your oral health can affect your overall bodily health. Not to mention, your smile can be an expression of self and is, oftentimes, the first thing passersby will notice when you greet them—making it the $25-$35 investment worth every penny.
Benefits of paying for fluoride at the dentist
It offers excellent health benefits
Fluoride treatments have been offered in dentistry for several decades to promote healthy enamel and fight gum and enamel-destroying bacteria. Fluoride treatments are especially crucial if you’re susceptible to dental cavities and caries. Cavities develop when bacteria accumulate on the gums and teeth to form plaque, which produces gum and teeth eroding acid.
Your dentist may prescribe a fluoride gel or rinse to use at home if you are prone to cavities. The chances of tooth decay increase if you have weak enamel, suffer from an eating disorder, experience decreased saliva/dry mouth, suffer from poor oral hygiene, or if you regularly consume alcohol or drugs. Fluoride does not get rid of decay but creates a sturdy enamel that can help prevent the decay from penetrating further into other layers of your teeth.
It’s hard to get enough fluoride through diet alone
Fluoride is present in a lot of the food and water you may already consume every day. However, foods with the highest fluoride content only provide between 2% and 4% of fluoride per serving. For this reason, you should make a point of receiving the recommended quantities by visiting your dentist twice yearly.
It works continuously
Fluoride mixes with your saliva to offer continuous protection for your teeth against cavities and bacteria. Through systematic intake, fluoride goes into a child’s bloodstream and aids the development of strong and healthy teeth. You can also get fluoride through topical treatment either from mouthwash, toothpaste, or direct fluoride application by a dentist.
Guidelines for a topical fluoride treatment
Dentists are equipped with the necessary training to properly care for your teeth, training that involves handling topical fluoride treatments. The procedure depends on the dentist’s method of choice.
For example, during a varnish treatment, the dentist paints the solution onto the enamel using a cotton swab or brush. The teeth are dried to prevent the dilution of the mixture. Your doctor will advise you to not swallow the solution.
The treatment lasts for 1 to 4 minutes, so you won’t have to devote a large chunk of time for your much-needed enamel protection. You are advised not to eat or drink anything for a minimum of 30 minutes after the treatment to allow proper absorption.
Risks associated with fluoride
Although fluoride is excellent for strengthening your enamel, you should always make sure to use it as recommended, as high doses can cause fluorosis. Besides fluoride treatment at the dentist, fluoride may also be present in water, dried fruit, and tea leaves. You can also find it in cocoa powder, walnuts, grape products, and dried beans, so pay attention to what you consume to prevent over-consumption.
Fluoride poisoning is rare, but its occurrence impairs the development of teeth and bones in children. This is why most children’s toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride. Fluoride poisoning can also lead to white streaks on the enamel, along with pitting and staining. These streaks/stains won’t be easy to spot, especially in children, which is why you should diligently examine the surface of your children’s teeth if you suspect over-consumption of fluoride.
Other side effects of fluoride over-consumption that aren’t visible to the human eye include dense and weak bones, as well as bone homeostasis issues.
Ultimately, the benefits of fluoride to your teeth outweigh the disadvantages. Therefore, it is worth paying the additional $25 to $35. Because it’s so easy to avoid the risks associated with fluoride by monitoring your consumption, there’s no viable reason why you shouldn’t incorporate routine fluoride treatments into your dental hygiene routine.
If you have additional questions about the pros and cons of fluoride, talk to your dentist or oral hygienist. Offices that value premier customer service (like this Lehi dentist) are always happy to explain things like this and answer your questions.