Fluoride, The Family Dentist, And What Adult Patients Need To Know

20 October 2022
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

Do adults need fluoride treatments? Your bi-annual family dentist office visit is coming up soon and you're not sure if you need fluoride treatment or if this is something only for the dentist's pediatric patients. Even though in-office fluoride treatments can benefit children, take a look at what adults need to know about this cavity-fighting option.

What Is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a word you may hear in toothpaste commercials or you may see in information from your local municipal water supplier. Even though you might hear about fluoride, you can't see, taste, or smell it. This naturally occurring mineral can help to remineralize teeth and protect your mouth against dental decay. The neutral taste and smell, combined with the cavity-reducing benefits, make fluoride an ideal additive to your healthy mouth routine.

What Is A Dentist's Office Fluoride Treatment?

You can find fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other dental products. Fluoride is also found in most public water systems. Tap water fluoridation can help to reduce tooth decay (cavities) in adults by 20 to 40 percent, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). 

Even though you may already get some fluoride from your town or city's water supply or in your favorite toothpaste and dental products, these sources won't provide the same level of protection as an in-office treatment. 

How Do Fluoride Treatments Differ In Strength?

The ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry and an ADA Council on Scientific Affairs panel recommendations for the use of topical fluoride (in cavity prevention) include a 2.26 percent varnish or a 1.23 percent gel for adults in dentist's offices. In comparison, the panel's at-home recommendations include either a 0.5 percent gel or toothpaste product or a 0.09 percent rinse. These recommendations are only for children six and up and adults. 

A professional in-office treatment is a stronger or more concentrated fluoride product. You can't buy these gels, varnishes, solutions, or foams at your local drugstore, or find them in the dental product aisle of a grocery store. Unlike fluoride-containing pastes and mouthwashes, in-office treatments are not made for daily use. You may only need this type of fluoride once or twice each year.

Why Would An Adult Need A Fluoride Treatment?

Do you remember these treatments from your childhood? While pediatric patients do get fluoride treatments, adults also often require this type of in-office care. Adults can also suffer from dental decay. Acidic drinks, high-sugar foods or beverages, and lack of dental care increase the risk of cavity formation for adults. 

If you're at a higher risk for decay, don't use a regular fluoride product, primarily drink bottled water, or already have evidence of decay, your dentist may recommend an in-office treatment once or twice a year. This may make it less likely that you'll need root canal therapy or another complex restoration in the future.

Speak to a family dentist to learn more.