Have you ever wondered why the American Dental Association and your dentist recommend you come back every six months? It’s because regular dental visits are essential for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. And in between those examinations, it’s important that you work to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. Start by visiting your dentist regularly. Cavities are one of the biggest problems for our children, and most of the time, they’re preventable. While six months is the “standard” time between dental visits, if you or your children could be at higher risk for cavities, you might need to visit us more often. During your check-up appointment, your dentist or dental hygienist will likely evaluate the health of your gums, perform a head and neck examination and examine your mouth for any indications of oral cancer, diabetes or vitamin deficiencies.
Next, your dentist assesses the state of your teeth and gums by:
- Examining the gums
- Looking for signs of gum disease
- Checking for loose teeth
- Looking at the tissues inside of your mouth
- Examining your tongue
- Checking your bite
- Looking for visual evidence of tooth decay
- Checking for broken teeth
- Checking for damaged fillings
- Looking for changes in the gums covering teeth
- Evaluating any dental appliance you have
- Checking the contact between your teeth
- Taking X-rays
Do not be surprised if your dentist also examines your face, bite, saliva and movement of your lower jaw joints. Your dentist or dental hygienist will then clean your teeth.
For decades, fluoride has been held in high regard by the dental community as an important mineral that is absorbed into and strengthens tooth enamel, thereby helping to prevent decay of tooth structures.
In nearly every U.S. community, public drinking supplies are supplemented with sodium fluoride because the practice is acknowledged as safe and effective in fighting cavities.
Some private wells may contain naturally fluoridated water.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a compound of the element fluorine, which can found throughout nature in water, soil, air and food. By adding fluoride into our drinking water, it can be absorbed easily into tooth enamel, especially in children’s growing teeth, which helps to reduce tooth decay.
Why Is Fluoride Important To Teeth?
Fluoride is absorbed into structures, such as bones and teeth, making them stronger and more resistant to fractures and decay. A process in your body called “remineralization” uses fluoride to repair damage caused by decay.
How Do I Get Fluoride?
Just drinking public water will provide a certain measure of fluoride protection. But for years, health professionals have endorsed the practice of supplementing our intake with certain dietary products, and topical fluorides in many kinds of toothpaste and some kinds of rinses. Certain beverages such as tea and soda may also contain fluoride. Certain kinds of dental varnishes and gels may also be applied directly to teeth to boost fluoride intake.
It is generally NOT safe to swallow toothpaste, rinses, or other products containing topical fluoride. In rare cases, some people may be overexposed to high concentrations of fluoride, resulting in a relatively harmless condition called fluorosis, which leaves dark enamel stains on teeth.