Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent dental caries. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well-documented for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations.
Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to caries (decay). We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride-containing dental products such as varnish, foam, toothpaste, and mouth rinse. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend the professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups, especially for children.
Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or prescription-strength fluoride treatments for the following reasons:
Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth
Exposed and sensitive root surfaces
Fair to poor oral hygiene habits
Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake
Inadequate exposure to fluorides
Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications
Recent history of dental decay
Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay. It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.