Is Fluoride Just for Children?

January 30, 2022

fluoride teethMost people who have been to the dentist can recall being offered fluoride. But, you might be asking yourself, “Do I really need fluoride as an adult?” It’s true that most insurance plans only cover regular fluoride treatments up to age 18. This is because strong, healthy teeth are formed during childhood, and fluoride helps teeth build cavity resistance. However, you may be surprised to learn that professional fluoride treatments can also benefit adults.

Benefits of Fluoride for Adults

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral with tremendous oral health benefits for both children and adults. In addition to cavity prevention, fluoride helps reverse early tooth decay and strengthens teeth during early development. Unfortunately, many people falsely believe that fluoride only helps strengthen developing teeth or is just for kids. The truth is, many studies have shown that topical fluoride applications, like the kind in toothpaste, mouthwash, and professional fluoride treatments, are just as critical in preventing tooth decay.

Fluoride treatments have been proven to prevent future cavities in adults and address early decay, possibly avoiding filling the tooth. Fluoride has also been shown to significantly benefit patients at a moderate to high risk of cavities whose teeth may be more susceptible to decay.

When Is Fluoride Intake Most Critical?

Over-the-counter fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash are great for daily use, but they don’t always provide all the fluoride you need to maintain healthy teeth and gums. In addition, some people may be at an increased risk of tooth decay and may benefit from professional fluoride treatments.

Patients with the following conditions may be at a higher risk of cavities and should consider regular fluoride treatments:

  • Dry mouth
  • Gum recession
  • Periodontitis (gum disease)
  • History of frequent cavities
  • Braces, crowns, and bridges
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Poor oral hygiene

Different Types of Fluoride Treatments

Drinking fluoridated water or using over-the-counter options, such as fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash, can help boost your fluoride levels at home. However, professional fluoride treatments are still the best option. In-office fluoride treatments typically have higher-strength formulations, and the fluoride is applied directly to the teeth, allowing it to be quickly absorbed into the enamel. Your teeth also absorb fluoride more effectively after a professional cleaning.

There are three basic types of in-office fluoride treatments: gel, foam, and varnish. Fluoride foam is administered in a mouthguard-like tray and left to sit in the mouth for 3-5 minutes. Fluoride varnish is a clear liquid applied to the teeth with a small brush, and fluoride gel may be applied directly to the teeth or placed in a mouthguard tray.

Typically, if a patient receives regular fluoride treatments at the dentist, they do not require additional homecare. However, certain high-risk patients may benefit from prescription-strength fluoride supplements in the form of a mouth rinse or toothpaste.

Scheduling a Fluoride Treatment at Central Park Modern Dentistry

Not sure if fluoride treatments are right for you or where to get a professional treatment? Central Park Modern Dentistry in Denver, CO, is a welcoming and professional dental practice that strives to provide a range of preventative dental services. Contact us today to learn more about fluoride treatments and how they can help you maintain your smile.