Dental Stock Photos
Microsoft Teams Image (44)

Dear Patient: Do adults really need fluoride treatments?

Oct. 25, 2022
Fluoride—it's really not just for kids! Learn why you need regular fluoride treatments at the dentist and some surprising benefits it has for grown-ups.

Fluoride treatments are just for kids, right? I mean once you move into adulthood you no longer have to endure those cavity creeps. And since your insurance company doesn’t pay for it, there clearly is no benefit.

Unfortunately, cavities are not a thing of your childhood. In fact, one in four adults has untreated decay sitting right in their mouths. And fluoride is for more than just cavities.

If the thought of a fluoride treatment has you thinking back to gaggy trays with the goopy gel that you had to hold in your mouth for four minutes and not eat for hours afterward, I have good news for you: fluoride treatments have evolved. Instead of gels, foams, or rinses of the past, we now have fluoride varnish that professionals can paint on your teeth. This varnish not only allows you to eat and drink right away (with some restrictions depending on the brand), but it also remains on the teeth and doesn’t venture to other places in your body.

But you still might be wondering—how, as an adult, do you benefit from a fluoride treatment?

An ounce of prevention

Fluoride is like vitamins for your teeth. Many of us take a multivitamin to help prevent illness, so why not a fluoride treatment to give you an extra boost to fight cavities? As a dental hygienist, I consider myself a prevention specialist. My goal is to keep you out of the dentist’s chair, save you money and time, and improve your overall health.

More Dear Patients:

Why that little cavity is a big deal

9 things we wish you wouldn't do at the dentist

Dry mouth

Many medications have dry mouth as a side effect. In fact, 66% of the population in taking some kind of prescription medication and more than 500 of those cause dry mouth. Why does that matter? Good-quality saliva is your friend in terms of having a healthy mouth. It washes away food debris, helps neutralize acids, and helps you digest food. When you are lacking saliva, you’re at a higher risk for cavities, gum disease, and other health issues. You need help reducing your risk, and fluoride is one building block to keep your body healthy.

Help for tooth sensitivity

Another bonus of fluoride is it can help with tooth sensitivity. Many of us have that spot that screams when we take a sip of the icy tea, nibble a sweet treat, or even drink hot coffee. Fluoride can help reduce, or eliminate, the zinger that goes straight to your eyeballs.

Protection with root exposure

Have you ever heard the phrase “long in the tooth”? It’s a metaphorical way to say old. But like many metaphors, it has some truth. As we age, our gums often begin to migrate down, exposing the root surface of a tooth. Unfortunately, our root surface doesn’t have the protective coating of enamel like the crown of our tooth does and are more prone to decay. Fluoride is a great way to protect those vulnerable surfaces in your mouth.

Don’t be fooled by the old thinking that fluoride is just for kids. It could have a positive impact on your dental and whole-body health. Ask your dental professional if they think you’d benefit from fluoride varnish. Chances are, you would.