Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter that helps repair the early stages of tooth decay, before it is even detectable. The advantages of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by numerous health and professional organizations. Research has proven that fluoride treatments make teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. Additionally, brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste and using fluoride dental products helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Fluoride treatments can be topical or systemic:
Topical fluoride treatment
Topical fluoride treatment strengthens teeth by permeating the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. Topical fluoride includes toothpastes and rinses, as well as professional application. Dentists typically recommend that children have fluoride treatments twice a year during dental check-ups.
Systemic fluoride treatment
Systemic fluoride treatment refers to the fluoride we consume through our foods and community water supplies. Fluoride can also be consumed as a supplement in drop or gel form, which is prescribed by a dentist or physician. Fluoride drops are most often recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children and teens.
While most people receive fluoride from food and water, it is often not enough to help prevent decay. Professional fluoride treatments provide an extra line of defense for issues such as:
- Pitting and fissures on the surfaces of teeth
- Sensitive or exposed root surfaces
- Inadequate oral hygiene
- Excessive sugar intake
- Inadequate saliva flow due to medical issues
- Predisposition to tooth decay