The greatest breakthrough in preventive dentistry in the last fifty years has been the use of fluoride.
Almost all water naturally contains some fluoride. About three-fourths of American cities add additional fluoride to the water supply for the prevention of tooth decay. Fluoridated water alone has decreased the cavity rate for school children by 60 percent.
There are many benefits in the use of fluoride, for people of all ages. When children are young and their teeth are forming, fluoride joins with the enamel surface and makes it harder and more decay-resistant.
The benefits for adults are just as great. Fluoride can help repair an early cavity, even before it’s become visible in the mouth, by rebuilding the enamel layer of the teeth.
Fluoride is also helpful in older adults to help solve the problem of root caries or root sensitivity. And fluoride rinses or gels are sometimes prescribed to help eliminate germs that cause gum disease.
Most dentists recommend fluoride toothpaste for all dental patients. We may also recommend additional sources of fluoride for increased protection. These include:
- gels or rinses
- prescription toothpaste
Another highly effective time for fluoride application is immediately following your cleaning in the dental office. A topical gel is applied with the use of a tray or with a cotton applicator.
Fluoride is an important part of every tooth decay prevention program. When combined with the good hygiene habits of brushing and flossing, the number of cavities in children and adults can be dramatically reduced.