How Fluoride Benefits Adults and Children

A few years ago, the American Dental Association (ADA) made headlines by advising parents to use a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste to clean children’s teeth as soon as the first primary tooth fully erupts. The ADA took this step after dentists reported a sharp rise in the number of young children arriving for checkups with multiple cavities in their primary teeth. However, lifelong exposure to various forms of fluoride treatment can have benefits not just for developing teeth in children and adolescents but also for adult teeth.

Fast Facts About Fluoride

  1. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that protects teeth from decay in multiple ways. Fluoride promotes fluorideremineralization, which can slow down the process of tooth decay; it creates a new type of tooth mineral that actually makes the tooth stronger; and it has antibacterial properties that fight cavity-causing plaque.
  2. Children routinely exposed to fluoride before age 6 incorporate the mineral into their adult teeth. This makes adult teeth stronger and more resistant to decay.
  3. Drinking tap water from a municipal water supply that has fluoride included can dramatically reduce the rate of decay. Some studies show it can cut the rate in half. Everyone can benefit from drinking water treated with fluoride, rather than choosing untreated bottled water.
  4. Using a toothpaste containing fluoride can cut the risk of tooth decay by another 24 percent. Look for products that carry the ADA’s Seal of Approval.
  5. Patients with advanced tooth decay problems can benefit from in-office or prescription-strength fluoride treatments. Dentists can deliver the extra fluoride as a gel, foam, or varnish during an office visit. Take-home fluoride products can include tablets or liquids. Prescription-strength fluoride toothpastes are also available.

“Fluoride is a powerful ally in the fight against tooth decay,” says says Dr. Melanie Bauer, a dentist in practice at Dr. Carol Ford & Associates in central Phoenix. “Our dental team is happy to consult with you on the proper fluoride treatment for each member of your family.”

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