What treatments can prevent weakened areas from developing cavities?

Healthy teeth are key to ensuring you are healthier and happier. One way to prevent cavities and treat active tooth decay is by getting a fluoride treatment. But what even is fluoride, and how does it really do? Are there any alternatives (YES)?  In this post, we’re answering those questions.

What is Fluoride?

For over 50 years, most of the tap water in Lakewood, Colorado has contained small amounts of fluoride to help reduce tooth decay. This fluoride in the water works on developing teeth (children).  Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral found in your bones and teeth. It is also found naturally in water, soil, plants, rocks, and air. It is often used to strengthen the outer layer of your teeth known as enamel. 

What is Fluoride Treatment?

Fluoride treatment offers benefits to people who are at risk of tooth decay and sensitivity.. You can also think of it as extra protection for your teeth! It provides preventative care that can help protect you from hefty dental bills down the line. 

Toothpaste and mouthwashes usually contain fluoride – but professional treatments contain a lot more. These in-office treatments contain high concentrations of fluoride that your Lakewood dentist or dental hygienist will apply to your teeth. 

This type of treatment provides these benefits:

  • Slows the growth of cavities
  • Reduces the risk of cavities
  • Delays the need for expensive dental work
  • Attacks the bacteria that causes cavities

What to Expect When You Get a Fluoride Treatment?

Fluoride treatment comes in a number of different forms.  We apply fluoride as a varnish because we feel that it is the most effective. Fluoride varnish is brushed or “painted” on the enamel. Varnish is especially nice because compared to other types of fluoride treatments, you are able to eat and drink right away and the fluoride still is working on the enamel.

What are the alternatives to fluoride?

Hydroxyapatite!  What’s that you say?  It is basically what your teeth are made of! Hydroxyapatite (HAp), in its natural form, is a form of calcium that makes up 97% of your tooth enamel and 70% of the dentin of your teeth. The rest of your enamel is actually composed of water, collagen, and other proteins.

Hydroxyapatite is biocompatible with your teeth — because it’s the same material as the majority of your tooth structure!  Your body recognizes hydroxyapatite as something that belongs there – it helps to remineralize and strengthen the teeth, and helps limit the plaque buildup (biofilm) on the teeth surface.

When it comes to safety, hydroxyapatite is non-toxic.  This can be especially helpful for children, who often use too much toothpaste and don’t spit it out.  So if a child swallows some hydroxyapatite, there is no risk of any toxicity.  In higher doses, fluoride can cause neurotoxicity, or too much can actually cause color changes in the teeth.

Dr. Turner LOVES the products from RiseWell and Boka, and is hoping there will be a professional application of hydroxyapatite soon.  

For more information, check out this awesome post by Ask the Dentist! 

So, Should I use hydroxyapatite or fluoride?

Fluoride can do a lot of good things for your teeth if you have a history of tooth decay.  Dr. Turner’s personal preference is to use a hydroxyapatite toothpaste daily, and to use professionally applied fluoride treatments when you come for your hygiene visits a few times a year if you have a history of cavities or crowns.  The reason for this is hydroxyapatite is safe and effective, why not use it daily, and professionally applied fluoride is more impactful than fluoride toothpaste, and stays mainly concentrated to the mouth, limiting the systemic exposure of higher doses.  Both of these are natural minerals that can prevent cavities in the mouth and can restore the tooth enamel and inhibit harmful bacteria from building on the tooth. You can take good care of your mouth by practicing proper oral hygiene with hydroxyapatite based products, but getting a professional fluoride treatment can add an extra layer of protection for your teeth!

If you’re curious about this type of treatment and if it is right for you or someone in your family, Dr. Turner would be happy to answer any of your questions! Please contact us at 303.732.8909 or book an appointment online here.

To learn more about our general dentistry services in Lakewood, CO, visit this page here.

About the Author

Dr. Elizabeth Turner is a whole-health, family dentist in Lakewood, CO who provides general, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. She focuses on the mouth-body connection and helps her patients smile confidently, breathe clearer, and live healthier lives. 

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