Most dental insurance covers regular fluoride treatments for patients up to 18 years old. Strong teeth are formed in childhood, when the teeth are still developing, and regular fluoride treatments help build cavity-resistant teeth. But what about adults? Do you need these treatments as well? Is there any real benefit?
What is fluoride? And do I need it?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent tooth decay, and can even reverse early decay, so it’s fair to say fluoride is important to your overall oral health. Minerals, including fluoride, are lost from your teeth’s enamel when they’re exposed to acids from plaque bacteria. These minerals are re-deposited naturally when you drink water, for example, and by your own saliva. Fluoride can also be applied directly to the teeth via fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses.
So why treatments?
Research shows that fluoride is just as important in fighting tooth decay as it is in strengthening developing teeth. Natural re-mineralization and over-the-counter topical products aren’t always enough to replace all the fluoride you need for healthy teeth and gums. The treatments offered by your dentist contain a much higher level of fluoride than toothpastes and rinses you can buy in stores or pharmacies. You may want to consider requesting a fluoride treatment at your next checkup, especially if you are at risk of tooth decay.
Who’s at risk?
Adults with the following conditions may be at higher risk for tooth decay:
- Dry mouth: Saliva is one of the body’s natural defenses against tooth decay. It helps wash away food particles and neutralize acids that can erode teeth. Anything that reduces saliva production increases the risk of decay. Dry mouth can be caused by medications such as allergy, anxiety, or high blood pressure medication. It can also be caused by radiation treatments, or diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome.
- Frequent cavities: Are you too familiar with the dentist drill? If you find yourself being treated for a cavity at least once every year or every other year, you fall into the “frequent cavities” category.
- Gum disease: Gum disease, also called periodontitis, causes the inner layer of the gums to pull away from the tooth. This can leave the roots of your teeth more exposed to decay-causing bacteria.
- Braces or crowns and bridges: Braces aren’t just for kids anymore. These days, more and more adults are getting orthodontic treatments. Brackets from orthodontic appliances, along with restorative crowns and bridges, can get in the way of proper brushing and flossing. Fluoride protects the vulnerable places these treatments create.
- Sensitive teeth: Diets high in acidic foods and beverages, receding gums, and teeth whitening can all lead to tooth sensitivity. Fluoride treatments re-mineralize the enamel and reduce sensitivity.
Should I get a fluoride treatment?
Fluoride treatments are not always necessary for adults, but can be beneficial to your overall oral health and hygiene. Consult your dentist, especially if you fall into one of the above categories.
Want to strengthen your teeth against decay? Contact Anew Dental & Orthodontics in Plainfield today to schedule your routine check-up!