Understanding the Role of Fluoride in Dental Care


By Erika Remmington


The discovery of fluoride to aid in resisting tooth decay began in 1901, when a dentist noticed the brown mottling of teeth in residents of a town in Colorado. The teeth of these residents were also unusually resistant to tooth decay. The years of research that followed indicated that a mineral called fluoride that was naturally present in the water was the cause of these effects. This discovery sparked a revolution in dental care that has preserved the dental health of millions of people. Today, fluoride is added to water in many communities. Fluoride treatments can be administered in dentists’ offices as additional protection.

What Are Fluoride Treatments?

Although most people get sufficient amounts of fluoride in their drinking water, some individuals may need extra protection. Fluoride treatments are the direct application of fluoride compounds directly onto the tooth surfaces in the dentist’s office. These compounds are generally in the form of gels or varnishes that are applied and allowed to dry to provide additional protection against cavities. Slow-release devices that release the fluoride over time are also available. These devices are implanted onto the surface of a tooth to provide localized protection against dental caries.

Who Needs Fluoride Treatments?

Individuals who are particularly vulnerable to dental caries can benefit from fluoride treatments. Among these are those who have:

· Braces

· Frequent cavities

· Dry Mouth Conditions

· Gum Disease

· Bridges and Crowns


The American Dental Association states that fluoride treatments can reduce the incidence of dental caries and recommend it as a preventative treatment for those individuals who are at high risk for developing cavities. Fluoride not only strengthens tooth enamel to fight erosion; it also helps to reduce the bacteria on teeth that cause dental caries.


Fluoride is considered safe and effective at recommended dosages. Children under the age of six should not get fluoride treatments because of the risk of dental fluorosis, a condition in which the teeth become discolored. Children should also be monitored in their use of fluoride-containing toothpastes and rinses to avoid this problem. Adults generally do not suffer ill effects from fluoride treatment. However, some individuals may experience nausea and gastrointestinal effects from fluoride treatments.

Should You Get Fluoride Treatments?

If you are among one of the groups of patients that are at particular risk for dental caries, your dentist may suggest fluoride treatments. Dental experts recommend these treatments as a safe and effective method of prevention for those who need extra protection against cavities.



Information provided by Parkland Mall Dental Centre, a Red Deer Dental Clinic.



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