Female in dental chair

Properly caring for your teeth involves daily tasks like brushing and flossing as well as occasional steps like going to routine dental checkups. One of the infrequent but important tasks you need to keep up with for proper oral care is fluoride treatment. Fluoride treatment can provide you with a number of benefits that can impact the long-term health of your teeth.

Why Should I Get Fluoride Treatment?

Fluoride treatment is a way to protect your teeth from the threat of tooth decay. Tooth decay happens as bacteria and enzymes dissolve away the protective enamel of your teeth. Once the bacteria move beyond the enamel, they can get into the tooth and cause decay. Daily oral care tasks like brushing and flossing can help prevent decay. Adding in professional fluoride treatment can create an extra layer of protection against decay.

You should get fluoride treatment as part of your comprehensive oral health care plan. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends professional fluoride treatment at three-to-twelve-month intervals. Most people can get the fluoride treatments they need during their twice-yearly routine dental cleanings. If you need more frequent fluoride treatment because of issues with your teeth, your dentist may have you use dental trays designed for daily fluoride application or prescribe a fluoride rinse.

Who Can Benefit from Fluoride Treatment?

Children can receive their first fluoride treatment as soon as their first tooth erupts. Routine fluoride treatments can continue to be beneficial through childhood and adulthood. In the United States, tap water and some bottled water are treated with fluoride. This provides a small amount of fluoride as people go through day-to-day life. The level of fluoride in the water supply is not enough to get maximum benefits. Fluoride treatment at routine dental visits can maximize the benefits from fluoride to your overall oral health. Everyone with natural teeth can benefit from getting professional fluoride treatment at least twice per year.

What Is the Process of Fluoride Treatment?

There are several options for professional fluoride treatment. Professional fluoride applications include mouth rinse, gels, foam, pastes, and varnish. Your dentist will provide the type of fluoride treatment that is most appropriate for your needs. Fluoride treatment does not take long to apply, but you do need to take some time to properly understand fluoride treatment aftercare. Important questions to ask before you finish your fluoride treatment include:

  • Can you eat after fluoride?
  • How long after fluoride can I drink coffee?
  • What not to eat after fluoride treatment?
  • When can I brush my teeth after fluoride treatment?

How Long After Fluoride Treatment Can I Eat?

It is important to understand the rules related to eating after fluoride treatment. Once you finish with your routine dental appointment and fluoride treatment, you may ask, ‘How long after fluoride treatment can I eat?’ The general recommendation for eating after fluoride treatment is related to timing and not necessarily what you eat. You do not need to only ask ‘What can I eat after fluoride treatment?’, but also, ‘How long after fluoride can I eat?’ The minimum recommendation you will hear is to wait at least 30 minutes after fluoride treatment to eat. However, in some situations, you may be advised to wait between four and six hours to eat after fluoride treatment. The specific recommendation you receive will depend on the type of fluoride treatment and your unique situation.    

How Long Should I Wait to Drink After Fluoride Treatment?

Drinking lukewarm water is acceptable at the 30-minute mark after fluoride treatment. Many people ask, ‘How long after fluoride can I drink coffee?’ Hot liquids require a longer wait time after fluoride treatment. You want to give the topical fluoride treatment time to create the seal on your teeth before you introduce any drinks that can cause stains or get in the way of that process.

Why Should I Wait?

Waiting for the recommended amount of time to eat or drink after fluoride treatment is a way for you to protect what you just had done to your teeth. What happens if you eat after fluoride treatment? If you eat or drink too soon, you risk introducing new stains to your teeth, preventing the fluoride from properly adhering to your teeth, and basically eliminating the benefits that come from fluoride treatment.

If you understand the waiting period before you have fluoride treatment applied to your teeth, you can plan accordingly. Be sure to eat before you go to your appointment so you do not need to get something to eat and drink immediately following your appointment and fluoride treatment. The standard recommendations for waiting times may vary from dentist to dentist but will fall somewhere in the range between thirty minutes and six hours. You can call your dentist's office before going to your procedure to find out the exact recommendation for wait time after fluoride treatment.   

What Can I Eat and Drink?

Your safest bet after you have fluoride treatment is to avoid extremes when it comes to food and drink. Stick with water that is lukewarm and only drink after the initial 30-minute waiting period has passed. Avoid hot liquids and dark liquids like coffee or tea for four to six hours to ensure enough time has passed for the fluoride to provide the full benefit. After the initial waiting period, start with mild foods that do not contain anything that may damage or stick to your teeth. Simple recommendations for food that is safe to eat after the waiting period include:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Potatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Applesauce

Be sure that any food you choose is not too hot or too cold and is low in added sugars. Sticking with these foods and others like them will help you minimize your risk of undermining the benefits of professional fluoride treatment.

What Foods and Drinks to Avoid?

There are a few foods and drinks you should avoid immediately following a fluoride treatment. Examples of these foods and drinks include:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Citrus fruit
  • Candy
  • Soda

Coffee, tea, and soda are all dark and can create fresh stains on your teeth if you drink them before the fluoride has time to properly adhere to your teeth. The heat from coffee or hot tea can also be problematic if you drink them too soon after treatment. Citrus fruit is acidic and should be avoided as well. Sticky candy and sugar-filled soda should also be avoided in the hours following fluoride treatment. If you are able, it is better for your teeth if you consistently avoid drinks and food that are filled with sugar.  

Your teeth and gums may also feel sensitive after a dental cleaning and fluoride treatment. This is especially true if you have issues like decay or gum disease that need to be addressed. This increased sensitivity makes it important to avoid foods that are crunchy or sharp as well in order to protect your teeth and gums.

When Can I Brush My Teeth After Fluoride Treatment?

When brushing your teeth after fluoride treatment, you need to follow the same recommendations related to eating and drinking. You do not want to brush your teeth too soon because you may unintentionally scrub away the fluoride you just had applied to your teeth. Give the fluoride four to six hours before you brush to avoid scrubbing it off your teeth.

What to Do After Fluoride Treatment

There is no need to be confused about what to do after fluoride treatment. The information outlined above, along with the instructions from your dentist, includes everything you need to know about what to do after fluoride treatment. If you do not currently have a dentist who can provide you with fluoride treatment, you can find one by using the Find a Dentist tool provided by Smile Generation.

Find the Help You Need to Get Routine Dental Care and Fluoride Treatment

You can get fluoride treatment from a dentist who provides routine dental care services. General dentistry includes procedures such as cleanings, fluoride treatment, cavity prevention, cavity treatment, and more. The Find a Dentist tool from Smile Generation provides a way to search for the type of dentist you need in your area. Click here to find a dentist near me that can help with fluoride treatment   

Smile Generation can also help you find general dental care for your children or a specialist for anyone in your family. If you need help finding a way to afford fluoride treatment and general dental care, Smile Generation can help you find a dental plan or financing options. Smile Generation Financial provides financing options that you can use to fill the gaps in your dental plan and pay for your oral care. The Smile Generation Dental Plan $0 preventative dental care, and reduced costs on a long list of other oral health procedures.

The Smile Generation makes it simple to find the help you need to properly care for your oral health. Get started today by using the Find a Dentist tool to search for a dentist in your area who offers general dentistry and preventative care.

References: 

  • https://pds-preview-staging.herokuapp.com/video?id=311
  • https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/fluoride-topical-and-systemic-supplements
  • https://pds-preview-staging.herokuapp.com/video?id=290
  • https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/Fluoride-Varnish-What-Parents-Need-to-Know.aspx
  • https://www.smilegeneration.com/
  • https://d.comenity.net/ac/smilegeneration/public/home
  • https://smilegenerationdentalplan.com/?sc_cid=SG_Refer_plans-financing#/