Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is nature’s cavity fighter. Fluoride strengthens the enamel and root surfaces of the teeth, making them more resistant to decay by preventing mineral loss and replacing lost minerals (remineralization). Fluoride also has antimicrobial properties and can reduce the population of bacteria that cause gingivitis as well as their ability to make acids. Additional benefits of fluoride include a reduction in teeth sensitivity and an increase in saliva flow.

Most dental insurance plans cover topical fluoride treatments up to the age of 18. Does that mean adults over 18 do not benefit from fluoride treatments? Not at all – according to the CDC, 47% of adults over 30 and 70% of adults over 65 have some form of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease leads to gum recession, enamel loss and root exposure. The American Dental Association (ADA) published a study in which a panel of dental professionals evaluated the collective body of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of professionally-applied topical fluoride for caries prevention. The study concluded that the adult population with moderate to high risk for dental caries can definitely benefit from in-office topical fluoride treatment. Here are some of the contributing factors associated with higher risks of dental caries:

  • History of decay on the smooth surfaces of the teeth (limited hand dexterity, poor oral hygiene home care)
  • Enamel defects (deep pits and fissures);
  • Teeth Crowding that easily trap food residues
  • Multiple restorations such as fillings and/or crowns (bacteria tend to hide around the margins)
  • Wearing orthodontics braces or aligner trays
  • Dry mouth (medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes, aging)
  • Gum recession (root exposure) and periodontal disease
  • Cariogenic Diet (high in sugar and carbohydrates; frequent snacking)
  • Teeth sensitivity (gum recession, whitening)
  • Acid reflux
  • Eating disorders

In-office fluoride varnish treatment uses high-strength professional varnish that can remain on the teeth for 4-6 hours providing time release for improved effective net dosage. Varnish application results in less ingestion than any other method and has the greatest uptake. Uptake is even greater if the varnish includes amorphous calcium phosphate. In-office fluoride varnish treatment is proven effective if applied every six months or more frequently for caries prevention. You can consume soft foods (yogurt, eggs, mash potatoes, soup, ice cream…) and cold drinks immediately, but we recommend our patients to stay on the side of caution by waiting 4-6 hours before brushing, flossing, or consuming hot foods/drinks, hard/crunchy foods.

In the fight against cavities, both children and adults can benefit from professional fluoride treatment. Our experienced hygiene team at Parkview Dental Associates will conduct an individualized carie risk assessment according to the ADA guidelines and recommend various professional and/or at-home fluoride treatment accordingly. Contact us (608-837-7394) or request an appointment online!

Additional resources:
ADA American Dental Association Caries Risk Assessment