Is Fluoride Important?

June 9, 2018

When discussing fluoride there tends to be some controversy over the subject, that is why we want to talk about this month.  Numerous studies show that when used as directed or when added to community water in the correct amounts, fluoride significantly reduces the incidence of cavities. A common misconception regarding  fluoride (which is perpetuated by insurance companies) is that only our child patients will benefit from fluoride use. Everyone has their own risk factors when it comes to getting cavities regardless of age.

Our hygiene team is trained to spot and evaluate your personal risk for acquiring cavities. These risk factors should be determined and discussed at every hygiene appointment. After evaluation we are able to inform patients if they would benefit from additional fluoride. This information and guidance will be based on a individualized patient care plan; what works for one person does not work for everyone. See the table below for a list of risk factors that influence the likelihood of developing cavities.

Risk Factors for Developing Cavities
1. Active Decay
2. Visible Plaque
3. Exposed Root Surfaces
4. Three or more cavities in the last 36 months
5. Orthodontic Appliances
6. Dry Mouth
7. No Fluoride Exposure
8. Poor Dental Homecare
9. Failing Restorations
10. Special Needs
11. Chemo/Radiation Therapy
12. No Fluoride Exposure
13. Tobacco Use
14. Eating Disorders

The majority of dental insurance companies cover the topical fluoride that we do in office, they usually cover the service twice a year but many put an age limitation on the service. The standard limitations range from ages 14 to 21 years old. When you look at those ages, you start to realize that most of the population is left out. After your hygienist has assessed your risk factors, they may suggest that you receive the in office fluoride treatment. If it turns out that fluoride is not covered by your insurance or if you have no insurance, we encourage you to look into paying out of pocket for it. We discount our fluoride treatment for those who don’t have coverage because it is a valuable tool in the prevention of decay. We know our patients don’t look forward to the diagnosis of cavities, which is all the more reason to prevent them from starting in the first place!

Other fluoride recommendations may come in the form of a prescription fluoride toothpaste used once or twice per day or an over the counter fluoride mouthrinse such as ACT. For children, their dentist or pediatrician may recommend a systemic fluoride supplement in the form of tablets or liquid. This form of fluoride has a large impact  on developing teeth, and can strengthen the teeth while they are forming. Systemic fluoride is particularly important for children whose primary drinking water is not fluoridated, including bottled or well water.

If you are interested in learning more about the assets of fluoride or your personal risk for cavities, please talk with your dentist or hygienist at your next appointment. If you don’t have one yet we would love to see you and partner in your oral health care. If you want to know if your community has fluoridated water, check out the CDC website or contact your water provider.



American Dental Association


Campaign for Dental Health


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