Nibble or Not? The Sneaky Science Behind the Aftercare of Your Dental Hygiene Appointment

Picture this: you’ve just had your dental hygiene appointment, and your teeth are feeling as fresh and fantastic. But wait a minute, you’re suddenly hit with the question – can you eat that juicy burger you were dreaming of in the dental chair, or should you hold off? The answer lies in the unsung hero of dental care: fluoride.


Fluoride, a cornerstone of modern dental care, plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health. If you’ve received a fluoride treatment at the end of your dental hygiene appointment, you might have given different recommendations about when you can eat, or whether you can eat at all. It’s important to note that not all fluoride products are created equal, and this can influence the post-treatment guidelines. For instance, in our practice, we use a fluoride varnish – a process similar to applying nail polish. This varnish leaves a subtle film on the teeth, nothing all that noticeable to the naked eye, but often the tongue can feel it on the teeth.


For the particular fluoride varnish we use, FluoriMax, you can eat straight away. The only limitation is avoiding alcohol and brushing/flossing – for 4 hours. This caution is because the alcohol can dissolve the film. And brushing or flossing after the fluoride varnish has been applied, will physically remove it. But non-alcoholic beverages and food are safe to consume straight after your appointment. 


So, what happens if the fluoride film is removed or compromised? The fluoride release process is gradual, which means that over the course of the 4 hours after it is applied, it is releasing fluoride into the teeth. If the varnish film is disrupted, say by sipping an alcoholic bevy at the two-hour mark, the benefits of the fluoride treatment could be curtailed. So, to get the best bang for your buck, consider leaving the fluoride varnish on your teeth, undisturbed, for the full 4 hours. 


Naturally, if you’re someone with a low risk to tooth decay, a fluoride treatment might not be necessary. In this case, you would have no restrictions after your dental cleaning.


There are other methods to deliver fluoride, including rinses and trays. These alternative methods carry strict post-treatment instructions. For example, some methods recommend no eating, drinking, or rinsing for a certain period of time, typically around 30 minutes but it can be up to 4 hours.


Of course, if you are every wondering whether or not you or cannot eat or drink afterwards, just ask. Your dental hygienist will let you know and give you the proper post-treatment instructions. And remember, if you do have to wait, be sure to check the time before your dental hygienist applies the fluoride. That way you know when you can dive into your next snack.

If you’re in the Prescott, Ontario area and are looking for a dental hygienist, consider booking your next appointment with us – we love meeting new people! You can book online here.

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