Although most people have heard of fluoride, many people haven’t heard that word since they were children. This is because fluoride, a mineral that occurs naturally in most water sources, was originally thought to be beneficial only for children’s teeth during development. Research has shown, however, that adults can also benefit from fluoride treatment. Read more to learn how fluoride is good for you, regardless of age.
How Can Adults Benefit from Fluoride?
Although it was previously thought that fluoride only strengthened children’s teeth while they were still growing, new studies have shown that fluoride also protects adults’ teeth. No matter where you get your fluoride – from toothpaste, mouth rinses, or tap water – it can provide you with a little extra boost of protection against tooth decay.
Do You Need Special Fluoride Treatment?
As long as your tap water is fluoridated and you brush with a fluoride toothpaste, then you’re getting plenty. To find out whether your drinking water is fluoridated, call your local water district.
Those who drink mostly bottled water and those with any of the following conditions should ask their dentist about extra fluoride treatment:
- Dry mouth. When you don’t have enough saliva (whether it’s a side effect of medication or a disease) to wash out food particles and bacteria and neutralize acids in your mouth, you’re more vulnerable to tooth decay.
- Receding gums. If your gums have pulled away from your teeth, it exposes the sensitive roots of your teeth to bacteria that can cause cavities.
- Braces. Wearing braces or any kind of orthodontic appliance can trap bacteria against the teeth that lead to decay.
- Radiation therapy to the neck or head. Radiation damages the salivary glands, contributing to dry mouth.
What Are the Different Types of Fluoride Treatment?
You can either receive a fluoride treatment from your dentist or give yourself one at home. With in-office fluoride treatments, your dentist or dental hygienist cleans your teeth and then applies a paint, foam, or varnish to your teeth. Some dentists may paint the fluoride into a mouthguard and ask you to wear that for a few minutes. You’re generally asked not to eat, drink, or smoke for 30 minutes afterward. This allows your teeth to fully absorb the fluoride.
At-home fluoride treatments can involve toothpaste, mouth rinse, gel, or even a pill. These are available by prescription from your dentist.
Even though fluoride has previously been marketed as a substance for kids, all adults can benefit from having a little extra fluoride.
About the Author
Dr. Greg Friedman has been a practicing dentist since 1990 and currently practices at Mod Squad Dental in San Diego. He keeps up to date on the latest and greatest dental techniques through continuing education courses every year. He is also involved in the accreditation program with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. In addition, he believes in the importance of preventive dentistry, which involves regular fluoride treatments, regardless of age. To learn more, visit Dr. Friedman’s website.