Note: This blog is intended for general information and oral health education. No part of this post is meant to diagnose or treat any condition and all writing is the opinion of the author only. Dr. Wagner is not affiliated with any companies, brands, publications, or commercial interests beyond her dental practice (Smiles By Rosie Family Dentistry).
Fluoride isn't just for kids! If you have developed any new cavities recently, your teeth need may some extra protection beyond brushing and flossing. Fluoride bonds directly to hydroxyapatite, the major substance that makes up your teeth and bones. It not only strengthens teeth to prevent cavities, but it can help reverse early cavities as well. If minor decay (sometimes called an incipient lesion) is found, and the patient focuses on brushing, flossing, and applying fluoride, it may sometimes be possible to avoid a filling .
Here are 8 tips on how to use fluoride.
1. Buy an over-the-counter fluoride rinse. The three main brands are Listerine (purple only), Act (any color), and Crest Pro Health Complete.
2. Brush your teeth thoroughly, holding the brush so half the bristles are on your gums and half on your teeth. Plaque accumulates at the gumline more than at the tops of your teeth.
3. Floss your teeth by gently bringing the floss down until it stops, wrapping it around one tooth, and "shoe-shining" it back and forth all the way up. Place it back between those same two teeth and wrap it around the second tooth, doing the same back and forth motion back up. Rinse after flossing.
4. Rinse with one of the above fluoride rinses for 1 full minute, then spit.
5. Do not eat, drink or rinse for 30 minutes.
6. Repeat every evening.
7. If your dentist prescribes fluoride gel or high-fluoride toothpaste (such as PreviDent), first brush, floss, and rinse like you normally do. Then place the gel or toothpaste on your clean brush, re-brush your teeth, and spit but do not rinse. Re-floss to apply gel between the teeth, and do not rinse, eat or drink for 30 minutes.
8. Be sure to get regular dental xrays. A special kind of xrays called bitewings help dentists to check for early cavities that form between the teeth, which are almost impossible to see otherwise.