What Does Fluoride Do?
The knowledge that fluoride helps to strengthen bones and teeth has been around since the early 1900’s. Its use in dental offices on children has been common practice at routine dental visits. Fluoride is known to help strengthen the enamel even before teeth erupt which is why it is commonly given to children while their adult teeth are still forming.
Fluoride uses the calcium and phosphate found in your saliva. These minerals make teeth resistant to decay. We naturally have bacteria in our mouths, but there are a few that produce acid as a by-product that can eat away at our enamel if left for too long which is why brushing frequently is critical. Fluoride has been proven to attack those acids and also makes it difficult for bacteria to stick to the tooth surface.
Candidates for Fluoride Use
Since fluoride is so great at strengthening teeth and preventing decay, why isn’t it used more often on adults? Once the cavity is big enough, removing the decay and placing a filling is the traditional method. That does get rid of the decay on that tooth, but it doesn’t prevent future decay or address bacteria in the rest of the mouth. Depending on the patient, there are a lot of factors that determine the person’s risk for cavities.
Things that can cause a lot of decay in adults are:
- Medical conditions and medications taken,
- A person’s diet
- Their personal saliva production (or lack thereof)
For patients who have a history of a lot of cavities, getting regular fluoride treatments are extremely beneficial. If caught early enough, fluoride can start to reverse decay that has started. Keeping up on your 6 month check-ups will allow for your dentist to track if the cavity keeps growing or not.
The great thing about fluoride is there are a few ways it can be administered to adults now too:
- A topical varnish in the dental office
- Brushing with a prescription toothpaste used at home
- Trays similar to bleach trays that can hold fluoride toothpaste on the teeth for 30 minutes
Paying For Fluoride
Most insurance will pay for fluoride treatment in children up to age 19. That means that if your doctor recommends fluoride treatment for you as an adult, your insurance may not cover it. An in-office treatment of fluoride varnish or a prescription fluoride toothpaste can cost anywhere from $15-$55 out of pocket. Though that can be a little chunk of change at the time, it’s more cost effective than paying for a filling or something larger in the long run. Fillings can range from $130-$300 depending on the size.
If you have questions about fluoride, contact our office today in Boise, Idaho to talk to Dr. Dave. Call (208) 402-1040