Cavities, or tooth decay, are caused by bacteria that are found in plaque, the sticky, clear film that accumulates on the surface of your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing help keep your teeth free of plaque. Regular dental exams and cleanings also play an important part in your oral health.
Another key to the health of your mouth is fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral that strengthens teeth and helps make them more resistant to decay. It can even repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of tooth decay.
Fluoride can be obtained in two forms. Systemic fluoride is swallowed, such as with fluoridated water or dietary fluoride supplements. Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth enamel, in such products as fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses.
If you do not have access to a sufficient amount of fluoride, or you just want an extra level of protection for your teeth, professional fluoride treatments are a good option. Fluoride treatments are also recommended for individuals who have a moderate-to-high risk of developing cavities (such as children).
A professional fluoride treatments near you generally takes only a few minutes. The fluoride may come as a solution, gel, foam, or varnish. It is usually applied with a cotton swab or brush or can be provided as a rinse or placed in a tray that you hold in your mouth for several minutes. Once the treatment is completed, you’ll be instructed not to rinse, eat, or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride and let it get to work. Fluoride treatments may be recommended every three, six, or 12 months, depending on your oral health status.