Fluoride is a mineral that is found in all natural water sources. When used correctly, fluoride is a very effective preventative tool. It remineralizes tooth enamel, creating stronger teeth and greater resistance to decay. Fluoride can be used topically or in the form of supplemental tablets. Supplements can be prescribed for kids ages six months to 16 years if they are high risk for decay or if their drinking water is too low in fluoride.
Is Fluoride Safe?
Yes! When used as directed, fluoride is safe. Community water fluoridation programs are also safe. These programs adjust the fluoride content in the water supply to the recommended level for optimal dental health. According to the American Dental Association, the current recommended ratio is 0.7 parts fluoride per million parts water.
In our office we use a topical fluoride varnish, which is painted directly onto the teeth. It feels sticky, but we recommend not brushing it off until you go to bed. Leaving the varnish on your teeth for a few hours produces better results than if it were quickly brushed off. After the fluoride varnish has been applied, do not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes.
Our office applies fluoride varnish at every six month cleaning for kids up to 16 years old. We strongly recommend fluoride for adults at least once a year, but it is optional. We also suggest using a toothpaste that includes stannous fluoride, particularly if you have sensitive teeth.
*Most insurances typically cover fluoride for kids up to 16 years old, but do not cover fluoride for adults. Each policy is different, so please check with your own insurance to verify that fluoride is covered.
Systemic fluorides are those which are ingested. The most common systemic fluorides are from community water fluoridation and dietary supplements. Water fluoridation is an effective, safe, and inexpensive way to get the fluoride necessary for preventing decay. However, not everyone has access to a fluoridated water supply. For those who do not, fluoride is available in the form of dietary supplements. Because there are several factors to be considered when taking dietary fluoride supplements, they must be prescribed by a dentist.