The use of fluoride to prevent tooth decay has been one of the most successful public health endeavors of recent history. Tooth decay used to be a common disease process that afflicted almost everyone, beginning in childhood. There is no disputing the fact that fluoride is effective at dramatically reducing the risk of developing decay. There is much debate about the safety of fluoride with extreme opinions on either side of the issue. The Advanced Dental Health team believes that fluoride is safe and beneficial when used responsibly. However, rather than trying to get into the fray over this emotionally charged topic, let’s focus on the facts.
Facts about tooth decay
Tooth decay is sometimes a painful and often an expensive disease. It can happen to anyone, although some people are more genetically predisposed to it than others. It can begin very early in life shortly after teething begins. When it strikes, there is no cure for it although there are options for treating it that will stop the progression of the disease and replace the destroyed tooth structure with prosthetics, such as fillings and crowns
. We cannot regenerate tooth structure that is lost to decay yet, although research continues in this area. Fluoride is our most effective weapon in preventing decay from occurring.
Two types of fluoride delivery
Fluoride has two distinctly different delivery models: systemic delivery such as fluoridated water consumption and topical fluoride delivery such as a fluoride varnish brushed on the teeth at a dental visit. Systemic fluoride is most commonly found in municipal water supplies and can be purchased in some bottled water as well. Some pediatricians will recommend fluoride drops for children that live in areas where the water is not fluoridated. There can be unwanted side effects of using too much fluoride so always consult with your doctor or dentist before supplementing with prescription fluoride. When an appropriate amount of systemic fluoride is ingested it helps to create teeth which are less susceptible to decay so it is beneficial to children as their teeth are forming, but it is not helpful for adults. Topical fluoride is effective without ingestion because it works differently. Topical fluoride treatments include over-the-counter toothpastes and mouth rinses as well as some prescription toothpastes and mouth rinses. It can also be received through professional applications while visiting your dental office. Topical fluoride is useful to protect teeth once they are visible in the mouth and are no longer developing so is useful for children and adults alike.
We respect your choices
At Advanced Dental Health, we realize that you have a choice regarding your health care and will offer to provide a topical fluoride treatment to you when appropriate. Although we may try to educate you regarding the benefits of such treatment, we will always respect your choice to accept or decline our recommendation. Insurance plans often do not cover the application of fluoride in a dental office after a certain age and we will do our best to inform you if you will incur out of pocket costs should you elect to receive this preventative treatment. However, we will not base our recommendation for any treatment on what your insurance will cover. We always recommend what we determine will provide you with the best oral health outcome regardless of your insurance coverage. The decision to proceed with the recommended treatment is yours. Contact us today
to set up your next dental visit and we will be happy to discuss how fluoride may benefit you.