Fluoride treatment at the dentist is essential for everyone, and it is recommended to have one at least once a year. In the United States, tap water usually contains fluoride, and most toothpaste manufacturers add it as an ingredient. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) suggest that frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride every day is the best way to reduce the risk of tooth decay at all ages. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends fluoride treatment for all children as soon as their teeth start to grow, to prevent cavities, pain, and future dental infections.
People who live in areas where the water does not contain fluoride can benefit more from regular fluoride treatments. Fluoride is naturally present in most water sources, but adding small amounts of fluoride to tap water is especially beneficial for those who do not have regular access to a dentist. A systematic review found that fluoride treatments, such as fluoride varnish, have a significant effect on preventing cavities in primary and permanent teeth. Before fluoride was added to toothpaste, studies showed that people who had fluoridated water were 40 to 60 percent less likely to have tooth decay.
Therefore, considering fluoride supplements may be one of the best and easiest decisions to prevent costly and painful dental problems for adults who are more prone to tooth decay than children. The ADA recommends the use of professional fluoride varnish for children under 6 years of age. The United States Public Health Service has established guidelines on the amount of fluoride that community drinking water should contain to help prevent tooth decay and minimize the risk of dental fluorosis. In addition to water fluoridation, fluoride is also added to oral care products such as toothpaste and mouthwashes, and can be given as an in-office treatment in dental offices.
Some people argue that fluoride is not safe for children, and even that fluoridated water can be dangerous. For most people, this means drinking tap water with optimal levels of fluoride and brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.