Does Fluoride Prevent Cavities?

Does Fluoride Prevent Cavities?

By Stephanie Zeller-Iliff, DDS

What Does Fluoride Do?
To quote the American Dental Association: Fluoride benefits both children and adults.
Here’s how: Before teeth break through the gums, the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements strengthens tooth enamel making it stronger and more resistant to cavities. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit.

After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This is provides what is called a “topical” benefit.

In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth and helping to rebuild weakened tooth enamel.

How and Where Do We Get Fluoride?
Fluoride is naturally present in variable concentrations in ground water, i.e. water from a faucet or water generally used to cook with. A certain amount of fluoride does occur naturally in rivers etc. Bottled water, distilled, or deionized water generally does not contain fluoride.

In addition, fluoride is provided in most toothpastes, as well as some mouth rinses. This is a very important part of cavity prevention, so be sure fluoride is in the toothpaste that you use.

What is Community Water Fluoridation?
Water fluoridation is the process of adding additional fluoride supplements to a community’s water source. Years ago, the government decided to add some fluoride to certain communities with naturally occurring low fluoride levels due to the high prevalence of cavities throughout the population. About 72% of the US is served by fluoridated water systems. Once fluoride was added to community’s water source, the cavities rate was significantly decreased. Simply by drinking tap water, people can decrease they risk of decay.

Not Drinking Tap Water?
If you’re an individual who only drinks bottled water, you may be at risk for not receiving an adequate amount of fluoride to decrease your risk of decay. Talk to your dentist about this. They may suggest fluoride supplements, or a change in toothpaste with an increased percent of fluoride concentration.

What Puts You at Risk for Decay?
There are many things that can increase your rate of decay, or number of cavities.
1. Poor oral hygiene. The number one cause for cavities is poor oral hygiene. This means those that don’t take good care of their teeth, i.e. proper brushing twice and day and flossing once a day.
2. Diet. Such as high intake of sugar or certain foods that lend itself to a better environment for bacteria to thrive within the mouth such as fruit, crackers, breads, potato chips. Also, eating many meals throughout the day increases your risk due to a change in the acid level of the mouth, which takes 30 minutes to stabilize after eating.
3. Beverages. Soda, even diet soda, when consumed throughout the day can be very detrimental to teeth. As can any other beverages with high acidity or large quantities sugar. This includes fruit juices.
4. Medications that cause dry-mouth. Bacteria tend to thrive in mouths with very little saliva.
5. Uncontrolled diabetes.

There are many factors that play into one’s risk for decay. For a thorough evaluation to be sure you’re not at high risk, visit your dentist.

Ways to Receive Additional Fluoride.
Again, as noted from above, fluoride supplements are available. In addition, your dentist may want to occasionally treat your teeth with fluoride. This usually done with a fluoride gel, placed in trays that you sit with for under 5 minutes. In addition, there is also a fluoride varnish that can be placed onto your teeth which is meant to be brushed off the next day.

If you are at a higher risk for decay, your dentist may want to change your toothpaste to a higher concentration of fluoride such as Prevident 5000 or have you use additional products like MI Paste.

The ADA provides answers for your fluoride questions:
American Dental Associations Take on Fluoride

Why Dental Treatment Is So Expensive

By Stephanie Zeller-Iliff, DDS

I read an article last week titled “Why Your Dentist Costs So Much”… and I thought I’d write a quick blog from a dentist’s point of view as to why it’s so expensive to get dental treatment. I agreed with many of the points I found in the article, so I borrowed their basic titles.

1. Dental Care is Not a Commodity
Dentistry is not like buying socks or going to the grocery store. It’s a highly technical profession integrating art and science. Dental school for students is a four-year program, post-undergraduate. This is the same amount of time it takes a medical student to receive an MD. In addition to that, the price one pays to go to dental school has become astronomical, especially considering that few if any students have time to work while in school, so the loans they accrue must include their price of living. Depending on what city they’re in, this can add a substantial amount to their overall price to become a dentist. It takes many dentists 30 years to pay off all their loans!! It’s a high price to pay to become a dentist.

2. Overhead Costs Are Huge
On average, anywhere from 55%-80% of what a patient pays goes towards the expense of what it costs to run a modern dental office. The materials, instruments, rent or mortgage, computers, machines, costs for licenses, insurance, payroll for hygienists, assistants, office managers, receptionists; it all adds up very quickly. Many people would be shocked at the cost it takes to run a practice and at the very small margin of profit that dentist’s benefit from. And then consider all that, plus loans!

3. Lab Fees
On top of the overhead, dentists have to pay lab fees to a lab for the fabrication of many fixed and removable dental appliances. This includes fees for crowns, dentures, partials, night guards, etc. While some dental labs may offer cheap prices for crown fabrication, this does not mean that the crown is of high quality. And while fees may vary based on regional location, they’re never “cheap”. For instance, a fee for a crown from a lab can cost the dentist up to $500.

4. Dental Insurance is Much Different from Medical Insurance
Most dental insurance companies tend to just be a maintenance plan, covering the cost of exams, x-rays, and cleanings but requiring the patient to pay 20-50% of any restorative work like fillings or crowns. In addition to that, most people’s maximum annual benefit is around $1000, meaning once the patient has had enough work to reach that maximum, the patient is required to pay 100% of the remaining work to be done. Most people expect their dental insurance coverage to be much better than what it is, or to be similar to their medical coverage. I’ve seen many patients shocked and even angry at their insurance when they realize that they will have to pay a substantial amount to get all the work they need done.

Side note: Most dentists do what they do because they love it. And we want you to care about your teeth. Your teeth are not only a significant part of your appearance but also your health. Studies are released everyday linking severe gum and bone disease such as periodontitis to other health problems like heart disease. If you have an active infection in your mouth, it’s important to get it treated. Bottom line? Find a dentist you can trust, and one that cares for your overall health.

Maximizing the Esthetic Potential of Implant Restorations

Dr. Marcus Blue invites you to “Maximizing the Esthetic Potential of Implant Restorations” presented by Dr. Brien Harvey on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

Course Content
This presentation will demonstrate the predictability of achieving esthetic implant restorations. Particular attention will be paid to utilizing immediate provisionals in the esthetic zone in order to achieve the maximum esthetic results. A discussion of how to improve the coordination of efforts between the restorative dentist and the implant surgeon will also be held, as well as case identification, diagnosis and treatment planning in order to increase the results of implant dentistry in general practice. The flexible range of abutment options will be presented as well as training on techniques that can be immediately implemented to achieve reliable, esthetic outcomes.

At the completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize the full potential of integrating implant dentistry into • their practice.
  • Better incorporate implant dentistry in their practice through • improved interaction and communication with their implant surgeon.
  • Recognize the excellent results that can be achieved through • immediate provisionalization of dental implants.

More information…

Topnotch Dental Services Using the Most Current Dental Technology

Nowadays you don’t go to the dentist just to have your teeth cleaned or a root canal performed. The use of impressive dental technology has made possible almost all kinds of treatments, whether in the scope of general dentistry or cosmetic dentistry. Whether you need whiter teeth, sturdy and natural-looking dental implants, or porcelain veneers, the right dental procedures can easily give you your smile back. Modern Dental Care is a careful blend of High-Tech procedures with old-fashioned care.

The Latest Breakthroughs in Cosmetic Dentistry
Perhaps one of the areas in dentistry which have seen a lot of advancements in recent years is cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry is concerned mainly in enhancing the look of a person’s teeth, mouth, and smile. The procedures undertaken in cosmetic dentistry are done both for aesthetic and restorative purposes. Some of the most common cosmetic dentistry services involve the following:

Teeth Whitening
A bright smile is impossible without a clean and white set of teeth. Teeth whitening procedures are performed in order to whiten stained or yellowed teeth. Certain types of teeth bleaching agents are used during each procedure, depending on the patient’s lifestyle and level of teeth sensitivity. There are also teeth whitening procedures which you can do at home, although the instructions are oftentimes prescribed by your trusted dentist well in advance.

Veneers and Lumineers
Veneers and lumineers are an ideal solutions for stained or broken teeth, as well as in treating tooth gaps and serious teeth discoloration. Porcelain veneers are known to be more reliable than bonding and are stain resistant as well. The veneer bonds completely into the tooth structure so that the natural look and feel of your teeth are restored.

Lumineers on the other hand are thin porcelain veneers. Since they are thinner than regular veneers, they can preserve your tooth better while giving it a more beautiful and natural-looking appearance. Lumineers are used to treat a wide range of dental problems including broken teeth, crooked teeth, tooth gaps, and teeth stains, among many others.

Digital X-Rays
Dental caries (tooth decay) can be diagnosed earlier with digital technology than with conventional film-based dental X-rays. Therefore, if you need a filling to repair the damage from decay, the earlier diagnosis usually means a smaller restoration (filling) than before. Another major advantage of digital dental X-rays is the amount of radiation needed to take the image is significantly reduced. Patients can now clearly see their X-rays on large computer monitors in each dental room. We can also greatly magnify a digital X-ray image to better explain dental problems to our patients.

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