The benefits of fluoride for preventing cavities, strengthening tooth enamel, and improving tooth sensitivity have been proven.
But fluoride does more than prevent cavities.
Do you have a cavity every time you go for a checkup? If so, you have a higher than normal decay rate.
Using fluoride is the best way to strengthen (harden) tooth enamel and lower decay rate.
Baby teeth decay faster than adult teeth. Most kids don't brush very well. For kids age 6 and older, fluoride rinse helps prevent cavities.
Tooth sensitivity that occurs near the gum line can be improved by using fluoride
Receded gums leave your tooth's root exposed.
Roots are not meant to be exposed. Root surfaces are not as hard as enamel and decay faster and easier. They can also be sensitive to cold, sweets and touch.
One of the benefits of fluoride is added protection for exposed roots.
For those who are allergic to ingredients in sensitivity toothpastes such as Sensodyne, fluoride is ideal.
Because saliva acts as buffer against acids, a dry mouth makes you more prone to cavities.
Using fluoride products will help to compensate for the lack of saliva and lower your decay rate.
Stannous fluoride has been shown to slow the growth of bacteria that cause gum disease.
Stannous fluoride is found in some Crest ProHealth products.
Water fluoridation has recently been endorsed by the US Surgeon General.
Fluoride is recommended by the American Dental Association almost all dentists and dental hygienists.
Stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride and APF fluoride work equally well to prevent cavities but stannous fluoride has been shown to kill bacteria that cause gum disease.
Professional fluoride treatments that are given twice a year at your dental check-up are important for kids and some adults.
Fluoride supplements can be used at home. these products vary in concentration and how often they can be used.
OTC home fluoride rinse or gel is a good addition to your routine.
Most toothpastes contain fluoride. In fact, it's really hard to find a toothpaste without fluoride. To increase your fluoride you can either use an over the counter fluoride rinse or ask your dentist to prescribe a fluoride gel or rinse.
Most OTC fluoride rinses have .022 - .05% sodium fluoride.
Prescription fluoride gels, rinses and fluoride drops are more concentrated.
Colgate Prevident gel is one brand that I use and recommend for adults with sensitive roots from a receding gum line or who have a high decay rate. It is prescription strength and is more concentrated than over the counter fluoride rinses.
Brush with it at night instead of your usual toothpaste.
One side effect of fluoride is dental fluorosis or mottled enamel---teeth that are uneven in color with white, yellow, or brown spots. Fluorosis can only be caused by ingesting too much fluoride when teeth are forming not by brushing or rinsing with it.
Decalcification (from poor brushing) is the most common cause of spotted or discolored enamel.
Fluoride is toxic if too much is ingested. Fluoride supplements are not recommended for children underage 6.
Older children should not use fluoride unsupervised.
Read the American Dental Association's statement about the benefits of fluoride in toothpaste.