There is no question, having seen the effects of lack of fluoride in water supplies in certain areas here in the states and in our mission travels around the world, that fluoridation is a significant health care aid for the people we serve. Anyone who has practiced dentistry has seen the benefits first-hand. There are genetic factors which can come into play, but for the vast majority of people, application of fluoride can reduce and in some cases reverse the early cavity process. (JADA 2016:147(2):84-91).

The article I reference is addressing the use of fluoride to reverse early decay in children. Fluoride in our drinking water is an important adjunct. Fluoride toothpaste clearly helps to reduce caries incidence on teeth. In my oral surgery practice, I tend to see a greater need in the aging population (who are the ones who are often losing teeth to decay and dental disease) where fluoride can help to reduce caries incidence under restorations such as crowns, or along the gum line. These are classic areas where we can see decay progress leading to tooth loss.

The problem we are seeing now that was not as great a concern 10-15 years ago is that adults tend to not consume tap water, an important fluoride source. Bottled water, bottled and canned beverages, etc. typically do not have fluoride.

I am an advocate for the use of topical fluoride for home use as an adjunct to professionally applied treatments for older adults. I like the fluoride gel. Apply it after brushing your teeth before bedtime and just leave it on the teeth. Typically you can get fluoride gel OTC from your pharmacist. Just ask. In some regions/states a prescription from your dentist is needed. I would recommend using this about three times per month if there is no other specific need. A nice side effect is that fluoride will also reduce tooth/root sensitivity such as may occur with age and gum recession.

An example of a specific need would be if there was another metabolic or physical problem such as immune disease, cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. These are areas where you want to have your dentist and hygienist as a comprehensive team guiding you. For the average, otherwise healthy aging adult, fluoride can be very helpful to maintain strong teeth that are more resistant to decay.

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If you have questions about topical fluoride, call Wagner Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Specialists at (262) 634-4646 to learn more.