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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Avoid Cavities For $54 a Year! - July 20, 2016

New research shows adults who get fluoride treatments during their dental hygiene appointments were 30 to 50 percent less likely to get cavities.  "Fluoride treatments are important for everyone -- regardless of their age," said Rebecca Wayne, Optima Dental Group's dental hygienist.  "Most insurance companies will cover fluoride for children up to 12 or 14 years old, but they don't pay for adults' treatment." 

Optima Dental Group recommends adults get fluoride treatments every six months as part of a thorough hygiene exam.  However, the patient can choose to get it or not.  Wayne says about 85% of adult patients understand the importance of fluoride and are willing to pay the $27.00 charge for the semi-annual treatments.

One way fluoride helps is by seeping into the enamel and drawing the calcium and phosphate that's naturally present in the saliva.  The minerals boost the teeth's natural healing process and make them more resistant to future decay.  But there are other theories about how fluoride works.  It strengthens the enamel before the tooth erupts, which is why it's so important for children.  And it attacks the acid-producing bacteria in the mouth.

John Featherstone, dean of the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry strongly advocates fluoride treatments for adults.  "Putting in a filling fixes that hole in the tooth, but it doesn't deal with the bacteria in the rest of the mouth," Featherstone said.  "Without fixing the underlying problem of bad bacteria, patients just keep coming back for more fillings." Featherstone saw another way. "It's a little bit like your car is starting to rust," he says. "If you can stop the rust before the rust goes right through the body of the car, then you're in good shape."

Like rust, tooth decay is a slow process. A full-on cavity is a hole that needs to be fixed. But if you catch decay early, Featherstone says, it can be reversed using fluoride treatments like varnish and concentrated toothpaste and gels.


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