My boss recently attended a meeting and heard a speaker suggest that we should apply topical fluoride to all patients. As a dental hygienist with 20 years of experience, I know the benefits of dental fluoride treatment. However, I have patients who come every six months and have not had cavities or other dental problems for many years. I'm not sure if fluoride would be beneficial for them.
Fluoride is beneficial for adults, especially those who are at a higher risk of tooth decay. Studies have been conducted to compare the effects of fluoride varnish to placebo, routine care, or lack of treatment. Systemic methods involve ingesting fluoride through food or beverages, with fluoridated water being the most common source. Eating healthy, drinking fluoridated water, and using fluoride toothpaste are great ways to maintain your fluoride intake.
Before fluoride was added to toothpaste, studies found that people with fluoridated water were 40 to 60 percent less likely to have tooth decay. Fluoride treatments at the dentist are effective because fluoride is applied directly to the teeth, usually in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish. Fluoride is found naturally in most water sources, but adding small amounts of fluoride to tap water is especially beneficial for people who don't have regular access to a dentist. Fluoride treatments are not considered a primary form of treatment, but rather a complement to other fluoride treatments such as toothpaste or fluoridated water.
It is important to understand the benefits of fluoride treatments and how they can help protect your teeth from decay.