All teeth need fluoride to minimize harmful acid attacks that occur when bacteria mix with sugar in the mouth and eat away at tooth enamel, causing tooth decay.
Most people get adequate amounts of fluoride through their drinking water and the foods they eat, but that’s not always the case. If you drink mostly bottled water or you use a home water filtration system, you may not be getting the amount of fluoride you need.
At one time, it was believed that only children needed fluoride treatments, but today, more adults are getting them as well, particularly if they run a higher risk of tooth decay due to:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Alcohol/drug abuse or an eating disorder
- Inadequate professional dental care
- Poor diet/nutrition
- Dry mouth (saliva helps to wash bacteria off teeth)
- Overgrowth of oral bacteria
Fluoride is available in several forms, including:
- over-the-counter and prescription toothpastes and mouth washes/rinses
- professional gel, foam and varnish treatments, available in a participating dentist’s office
- supplements that are prescribed by a participating dentist
In young children, especially those under the age of 6, too much fluoride can be toxic. Parents need to be vigilant in monitoring their children’s brushing habits and in keeping all forms of fluoride out of reach. Excess fluoride can also produce defects in tooth enamel that appear as barely noticeable white specks or streaks, or even worse, as brown spots. This condition, known as fluorosis, is usually the result of drinking water that is overly fluoridated (i.e., well water).
If you have questions or concerns about the fluoride content in your local drinking water or you’re wondering if you or your child can benefit from fluoride treatments, contact a participating dentist near you who will be happy to address your concerns and answer any questions that you might have.