Fluoride Treatment

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in most foods and water. Fluoride has been proven to help fight and even reverse the process of tooth decay caused by acids, plaque, and bacteria, which regularly hurt tooth enamel. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.

Fluoride works in two ways:

Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using dental products containing fluoride, such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children receive a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.

Systemic fluoride strengthens erupted teeth as well as teeth developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supplies. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by your dentist or physician. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. It is very important to monitor the amount of fluoride a child ingests. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (characterized by white spots on the teeth) may result.

Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:

  • Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.
  • Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.
  • Fair to poor oral hygiene habits.
  • Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake.
  • Inadequate exposure to fluorides.
  • Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments, or medications.
  • Recent history of dental decay.

Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.

Fluoride treatments can also benefit infants and children, from the ages of 6 months to 16 years. However, adults can benefit from fluoride treatment as well. In recent studies, it was found that topical fluoride–from toothpastes, mouth rinses, and in-practice treatments–are just as important in fighting tooth decay as in strengthening and developing teeth.