When someone says fluoride, most of us automatically think children. While it is true that fluoride is an important part of our children’s oral health, it is also a necessity for adults as well. Adults, just like children, get cavities. So adults, just like children, should receive fluoride. In fact, there are many age related problems that increase our need for fluoride. Some examples include:
- Eating disorders
- Drug or Alcohol abuse
- Lack of regular professional dental care
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- Exposed root surfaces of teeth, recession
- Decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
- Poor diet
- Existing fillings
- Tooth enamel defects
- Undergoing head and neck radiation therapy
I’d like to address recession and dry mouth specifically, since those are very common problems.
Recession is when the gums have receded below the crown of the tooth, exposing the root to the tooth.
This creates two main problems. First, the roots of the teeth do not have enamel, they are covered by cementum.
As we all know, enamel is the hard material that protects the surface of the tooth. Enamel is 70 times stronger than cementum. This, unfortunately, means that the roots of the teeth are more prone to decay than the crowns of the teeth. The best recommendation for recession and the prevention of decay is fluoride. Make sure you are using a soft bristled brush with soft brushing (to prevent further recession) in combination with fluoride toothpaste. Also, you may received fluoride treatments at your dental appointments. The most beneficial would be fluoride varnish. Your hygienist is able to apply this for you at each appointment. The varnish coats the tooth in a protective layer of fluoride to aid in the prevention of decay.
The second problem that recession creates is sensitivity. When the root is exposed tiny little tubules open up on the tooth and the chances for sensitivity increase. This makes eating or drinking cold or sweet things painful. You will often notice a sharp zing when the area of recession comes in contact with cold or sweet items. The best recommendation for sensitivity due to recession is fluoride. Sensitivity toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, contain an increased amount of fluoride (as opposed to regular toothpaste) to assist in the prevention of sensitivity (and decay).
Fluoride varnish is also helpful as it coats the tooth and temporarily closes the tubules decreasing the sensitivity.
The last topic that I wanted to address is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Many adults take medicine and the most common side effect of many medications is dry mouth. A decrease in saliva increases your risk for decay. Saliva is important in washing away bits of food, neutralizing acids created by bacteria, as well as containing minerals that help prevent tooth decay. If you are having problems with dry mouth, try rinsing with a fluoride mouth was or a saliva substitute.
All these reasons and many more show the importance of fluoride use for adults. If you have any other questions about the other problems that fluoride can help with, feel free to make an appointment with us and we’ll answer all your questions!
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Fluoride Treatments in the Dental Office ADA: http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_72.pdf
Can Fluoride Help Adults? Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Adults/Adult-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Can-Fluoride-Help-Adults.cvsp
Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm