Fluoride … It’s Not Just for Kids

The addition of fluoride to the public water supply during the 1940s has been heralded as one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, helping to prevent cavities in both children and adults. However, the debate over fluoride is one that does not seem to abate.

Major health organizations, including the American Dental Association, agree that optimally fluoridated water protects your teeth and does not pose a risk to your health. Anti-fluoride activists contend that adding fluoride to the public water system can actually cause health problems and is an infringement on individual freedoms.

The science points to the benefits of fluoride. Community water fluoridation is an important, effective public health tool that reduces disparities in oral health and continues to be a benefit in reducing tooth decay. Over the course of a lifetime, fluoridation can reduce decay by 25 percent, and it can reduce the need for dental restoration treatments. Also, research indicates that topical fluoride — including toothpastes, mouth rinses and fluoride treatments — is as important in fighting tooth decay as it is in strengthening a child’s developing teeth.

In addition to always brushing with a toothpaste that contains fluoride and using a fluoride mouth rinse, dentists can apply fluoride at much higher levels to the teeth in the form of a gel, foam or varnish. Gels can be applied via a mouth guard or painted on the teeth, while foams are put in a mouth guard, and varnishes are painted on.

Adults who are at moderate to high risk of tooth decay can significantly benefit from these fluoride treatments. At risk people include those with dry mouth conditions caused by disease or by certain drugs, people with periodontitis (gum disease), people with a history of frequent cavities, and those who have crowns, bridges or braces. Fluoride may also help with sensitive teeth as it can help re-mineralize tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.

At Enlighten Dental Care, we want to do everything in our power for our patients while they are in our office to help boost their prevention of tooth decay. Because most insurance plans only cover the cost of fluoride treatments for children up to 18 years old, we are offering fluoride varnish to our patients at no additional charge. By taking the cost of fluoride treatment out of the equation, we are providing a value-added service that prevents cavities.  

Media messaging about fluoride can be confusing, so don’t hesitate to ask us about this important preventive health measure. For more information about fluoride and fluoride treatments, contact Enlighten Dental Care at (336) 765-0904.

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