White spots like these from poor brushing can easily lead to decay

Why do I need extra fluoride?

For people who are “prone to cavities”, fluoride is one of the best and easiest solutions! For many years now, community water supplies have had fluoride added to help reduce the “epidemic” of dental decay from several decades ago. However, the incredibly high use of bottled water now in 2012 means that people aren’t ingesting fluoride as they used to.  With proper oral hygiene including thorough brushing and flossing, and good dietary habits, the majority of people can fend off significant decay.  However, for some of us (especially for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment) a little extra “insurance”  against decay is really helpful.

So what can I do?

A woman phoned our office last week asking about just this subject (hence this blog!). She had previously been buying my favorite product for many years now by Oral B called Fluorinse.  Unfortunately, according to my Oral B saleperson, this has been discontinued by the company. The best replacement would be a product that is sold without a prescription, has no alcohol, comes in a variety of strengths, and is mild-tasting so children as well as adults will accept its usage.  Right now, the replacements we recommend are a Crest product call “Crest For Me”, which is targeted for children ages 8 and older (but can be used by younger children who know how to “swish and spit”), and it has 0.02% Fluoride. Other brands are Listerine Total Care Zero and Act Fluoride (which comes in either 0.02% or 0.05% versions).  If your dentist feels you need higher levels of fluoride to help severely weakened teeth, she may recommend prescription-strength fluoride gels, which can either be used as a rinse or in custom-fitted molds worn once or twice per day.

Isn’t the fluoride treatment in my dentist’s office once or twice per year enough?

For some people…yes.  However, if you have had new decay within the previous year with no change to your dietary habits, or multiple areas of “starting decay” (so-called “white spots” or decalcification, or “incipient” decay), you may need the daily contact of fluoride-to-teeth to keep them resistant to the bacteria that causes decay.  We recommend using a home fluoride rinse 1-2 times per day, every day…forever! It’s easy to do, and cost-effective. We would love to answer your questions about fluoride, so pease feel free to contact our office!