I recommend fluoride for most of my patients, no matter what their age. When we were young the main use of fluoride was to protect teeth during development and eruption, but now research has shown that fluoride also helps protect erupted adult teeth in the battle against tooth decay.
Professional cleanings remove all the plaque and debris, and leave your teeth shiny and bright, but unprotected. This is the best time to apply fluoride to your teeth. When nothing is in the way! The evidence is clear that professional strength topical fluoride applications provide numerous additional benefits (beyond fluoridated water and toothpaste) for all adult patients, not just those with a moderate to high cavity risk.
I know some of my patients express concern or confusion about fluoride, but when administered correctly I have witnessed the power of fluoride and its benefits throughout the last 15 years in my own practice. Although most clinicians preach about the use of fluoridated toothpaste and fluoride rinses at home, in-office fluoride treatments and even prescription strength applications or toothpastes are often overlooked, especially if patients are over the magical age of 16.
Consider the following when deciding if fluoride will be a benefit you:
Are you taking medications that cause a 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? Root surfaces are extremely susceptible to decay and decay can travel quickly through the root. Fluoride treatments can help make roots stronger and resistant to decay.
Have you needed a tooth worked on due to decay in the past few years? 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, which is the leading cause of bridge failure.
Are you in Braces, wearing bonded brackets or bands? High concentration of fluoride can help keep teeth cavity free during orthodontic treatment or around permeant retainers after orthodontics is finished.
Have 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. This patient will benefit from fluoride treatments, and with most we will also put together a program for you to follow at home.
Are you experiencing tooth sensitivity? Fluoride can help reduce the pain and discomfort caused by exposed root surfaces. Regular fluoride applications can help eliminate this sensitivity.
How well do you keep up your brushing and flossing? Plaque on the teeth increases the risk of decay. Fluoride helps fight the decay process caused by high levels of plaque.