Fluoride is a mineral that is beneficial for dental health when it is topically applied to teeth. It strengthens and protects the enamel from tooth decay by making teeth less susceptible to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars. In the past, fluoride was generally used for infants and children ages 6 months to 16 years old to protect new teeth coming in and the development of permanent teeth. But new research shows, fluoride benefits people of all ages in preventing tooth decay. Topical fluoride is available in many tooth pastes and mouth rinses on the market today. It is also available at dental offices with a much higher level of fluoride. It can be applied in the form of gels, foams or varnishes every 6 months or at the time of routine cleaning appointments. Once the fluoride is applied, it is quickly absorbed by teeth and stays in the mouth for some time. It is recommended not to eat or drink for 20 minutes following the application.
Fluoride offers that extra protection in fighting cavities but should not be the only practice in your dental hygiene. Fluoride treatments combined with regular brushing and flossing, are all important practices in keeping teeth healthy for a long time.