Benefits of Fluoride
There are many benefits to incorporating fluoride into your daily oral health care routine. Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, including the oceans. Research has shown that fluoride not only reduces cavities in children and adults, but it also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay, even before the decay is visible. Fluoride is the best cavity fighter to help keep the whole family’s teeth strong — no matter their ages.* There are different types of fluoride treatments in and out of the dental setting that can be useful depending on a person’s decay rate.
Topical fluoride comes in many forms, including toothpaste, mouthwash, and varnish. If a patient has a higher tooth decay rate, we may recommend a higher prescription strength fluoride toothpaste for them. An over the counter toothpaste has .24% sodium fluoride concentration. The prescription strength has 1.1%, so 5x as much. Fluoride varnish has 5% sodium fluoride concentration and is applied during your 6-month checkup at your dental office. Consider this a larger dose to help strengthen the enamel and any weaker areas in the mouth. Children typically receive fluoride twice a year, and it is a great preventive for adults as well. For a patient that does not have a higher decay rate, a fluoride mouthwash like ACT or Listerine Total Care Zero is a great option to use twice a day after brushing.
This includes tap water with fluoride in it. Some other foods also contain naturally occurring fluoride like fruits and vegetables and even some seafood like shrimp and crab. Sometimes a fluoride supplement is recommended for kids in more rural areas without fluoridated water. Studies have shown those without fluoride in their tap water will have a higher risk of decay or developing cavities.
It is safe to use fluoride toothpaste at a child’s first tooth eruption. No need for the training toothpaste anymore. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a rice size amount smeared into the toothbrush which provides the perfect amount of fluoride and benefits even if the child is not yet spitting out the toothpaste and rinsing after brushing. Fluoride is a mineral we are very grateful for in dentistry as it helps in preventing cavities, which is our entire philosophy!