Do Adults Need Fluoride Treatments?

You are likely familiar with the importance of fluoride for developing strong teeth during childhood. Fluoridated water, toothpaste, and professional fluoride applications have been shown to reduce dental decay in children’s primary and permanent teeth. Most adults, however, do not consider that fluoride also benefits them. Therefore, you might be surprised when your dentist or dental hygienist discusses professional fluoride treatments as part of your oral hygiene program.

If you have questions about how you can prevent tooth decay during adulthood, schedule an appointment at Trident Dental for a comprehensive oral examination and professional teeth cleaning.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in rocks, soil, foods, and water. Tooth enamel contains minerals such as fluoride, which makes enamel resistant to the demineralizing effects of acids. When plaque accumulates on your teeth, the acids can destroy some of the fluoride and other minerals from the enamel. Fortunately, this demineralizing is reversed when fluoride from foods and water gets reincorporated into the enamel. This important process of remineralizing enamel depends heavily on the fluoride in water. Although all water contains fluoride, it is present in amounts too small to benefit teeth. Community water fluoridation programs add small amounts of fluoride that can improve and strengthen tooth enamel.

How Does Fluoride Help Teeth?

Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in your body, even stronger than bone. Helping to keep your teeth strong are calcium and phosphate found in your saliva. As saliva bathes your teeth daily, these minerals replenish any calcium and phosphate lost due to acids in your diet. Fluoride consumed from water and food gets incorporated into your saliva and combines with calcium and phosphate. This creates a material called fluorapatite, the most robust defense you can have in fighting tooth decay.

Can Professional Fluoride Treatments Benefit Adults?

Fluoride exposure is critical to developing strong teeth when teeth erupt between six months and mid-teens. However, studies show that fluoride’s importance beyond tooth development extends to preventing tooth decay in adulthood. Although fluoride can benefit all adults, it is particularly beneficial for some conditions that are more common in adults. These include:

  • Gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis expose more of the tooth. This can include the surface of tooth roots, which are more susceptible to tooth decay.

  • Dental restorations. Crowns, fillings, and bridges introduce areas where the restoration contacts tooth structure. These junctions are more prone to developing cavities.

  • Xerostomia. Dry mouth occurs with diminished saliva production. This is more common in adults due to medications and certain medical conditions.

  • Recent cavity. If you have a cavity as an adult, this strongly indicates a high susceptibility to tooth decay. Fluoride treatments can help ensure that you prevent more cavities in the future.

The Benefits of Professional Fluoride Treatments

As adults, you can continue reaping the benefits of fluoridated water, toothpaste, and mouthwash. However, professional fluoride treatments by your dentist provide several benefits, such as:

  • Professional fluoride contains a higher concentration of fluoride.

  • Your dentist uses a sticky varnish that adheres to the enamel and isn’t easily washed away and swallowed with your saliva.

  • Some fluoride varnishes continually release fluoride for twenty-four hours after application.

  • Professional fluoride applications help decrease tooth sensitivity which is more common as we age.

Schedule Appointment

Contact Trident Dental to learn how we can help you fight tooth decay and maintain healthy teeth and gums. Our goal is for you to have a bright smile throughout adulthood.

Schedule Appointment

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