Why is fluoride important?
Fluoride is a compound found in both nature and food. It works to prevent tooth decay in two ways:
Topical application of fluoride, such as with toothpaste or mouthwash, benefits teeth that are already present in the mouth (erupted). Teeth absorb the topical fluoride and incorporate it into their structure. This creates teeth that are more resistant to decay. Topical fluoride can also help to harden and strengthen areas that are already in the beginning stages of decay.
Systemic fluoride benefits teeth that are still forming. By ingesting the fluoride, it is available in the body and can be built into the structure of the new teeth. This allows teeth to erupt that are stronger and more resistant to decay. Some systemic fluoride is present in saliva, so it can provide a topical benefit as well. Systemic fluoride can come from drinking water, supplements, as well as certain food sources.
It is a common misconception that fluoride is recommended for children only. Many adults can benefit
from fluoride as well.
Gum Recession—adults who have receding gums are at a higher risk for decay. When the gums recede, the soft root surface of the tooth becomes exposed. The soft root, which lacks the hard protection of enamel, is more easily attacked from acids and sugars in food, drink and plaque.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)—many medications and health conditions can lead to a decrease in saliva or change in consistency of saliva. Without the right amount or consistency of saliva, teeth are more prone to decay.
Children and adults should have a caries (cavity) risk assessment by their dentist at their first visit. The
dentist will take into account the patient’s history of cavities (and for children, their parent’s history of
cavities), habits, diet, oral hygiene, dental health and overall health. Patients at an increased risk for
cavities may have fluoride recommended by their dentist.
To avoid future dental problems, ask us what a fluoride treatment can do for you. Please call us at 203-377-9300 to schedule an appointment.