Fluoride treatment at the dentist is an important part of maintaining good oral health. In the United States, most tap water and toothpaste contain fluoride, which helps to protect teeth from decay. However, brushing alone is not enough to keep bacteria and plaque at bay. Studies have shown that everyone benefits from additional fluoride to fight tooth decay, and regular fluoride treatments can help. Babies and children between 6 months and 16 years old are especially vulnerable to tooth decay, as this is the period when their primary and permanent teeth come out.
But adults also benefit from fluoride treatments. Recent research indicates that topical fluoride from toothpastes, mouthwashes, and treatments is just as important for preventing tooth decay as it is for strengthening developing teeth. If you have dry mouth due to certain medications or diseases, eat frequent snacks throughout the day (especially if they are sugary), or have a history of gum disease or tooth decay, you may be at an even higher risk of tooth decay. In these cases, professional fluoride treatments may be even more beneficial. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that people at high risk of tooth decay undergo professional fluoride treatments twice a year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the ADA recommend that people of all ages get frequent exposure to small amounts of fluoride every day in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
While there is no scientific evidence that people who drink bottled water are more likely to get cavities, the ADA states that these people may be missing out on the cavity-preventive effects of optimal fluoridated water available in their community's water sources. If you're particularly susceptible to tooth decay or want extra protection for your teeth, Gentle Dental Center recommends using different types of fluoride treatments. Fluoride can be applied directly to tooth enamel in the form of toothpaste, mouthwash, or professional fluoride treatments in the dentist's office. A systematic review has found that fluoride treatments such as fluoride varnish have a significant effect on preventing cavities in both primary and permanent teeth. While there are some potential side effects associated with too much fluoride, it is a myth that fluoride treatments or fluoridated water cause widespread harm. People who live in areas where the water does not contain fluoride can get even greater benefits from regular fluoride treatments. 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. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends fluoride treatment for all children as soon as their teeth begin to grow in order to prevent tooth decay, pain, and future dental infections.
For most people, this means drinking tap water with optimal levels of fluoride and brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride treatment is essential for everyone - from babies to adults - in order to maintain good oral health. Regular exposure to small amounts of fluoride every day helps reduce the risk of tooth decay, while professional fluoride treatments can provide extra protection for those at higher risk.