Fluoride is a mineral that helps fight tooth decay. Often called “nature’s cavity fighter,” fluoride helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay can be seen. The main use of fluoride in the past has been to protect teeth during development and eruption, but research has now shown that fluoride helps protect erupted teeth in the battle of tooth decay. The evidence is clear that professional topical fluoride applications provide an additional benefit (beyond fluoridated water, toothpaste, and naturally occurring fluoride compounds found in such sources as tea) for all adults.
The following information should be considered when deciding if you would benefit from fluoride:
- Do you take medications that cause dry mouth? A decrease in saliva can increase the risk for decay. Fluoride treatments can help reduce the risk of decay in this population.
- Do you have exposed root surfaces and/or sensitivity? Root surfaces are extremely susceptible to decay and decay can travel quickly through the root. Fluoride can help reduce the pain and discomfort of exposed root surfaces and help make roots stronger and resistant to decay. Regular applications of fluoride can help eliminate sensitivity.
- Have you had a cavity filled in the last year? If so, you are at risk for decay and delivering a fluoride treatment will reduce this risk.
- Do you have crowns and/or bridges? Fluoride can help protect the margins of these restorations and potentially eliminate decay around the margins.
- Are you wearing bonded brackets or braces? Fluoride can help keep teeth cavity free during orthodontic treatment.
- Are you undergoing or going to be receiving head and neck radiation? Radiation damages salivary glands, which causes an extreme reduction in salivary flow. Saliva is an important component in the fight against tooth decay. Without it, the risk for decay is extreme.
- Do you have poor oral hygiene? Plaque on the teeth increases the risk of decay. Fluoride helps fight the decay process caused by high levels of plaque.
When considering these facts, it becomes easy to see that a high percentage of adults fall into at least one of these categories and would benefit from in-office fluoride treatments.