An Overview of Professional Fluoride Treatment for Kids & Adults

Dr Sukanya Goswami
Sukanya has done BDS. She is a dentist, a blogger, an extrovert, and a travel enthusiast. She is also a spiritual believer. When she is not working, you can find her reading books.

Fluoride toothpaste is one of the most popular oral health aids in the market. The process of tooth remineralization and cavity protection from fluoride toothpaste may take a long time to show the results. However, it is ideal for people who are at low risk of developing dental caries. Professional fluoride treatments can help to strengthen the teeth of patients who are at moderate to high risk of developing tooth decay and cavity.

Fluoride treatments in the dental office are quick, effective, and safe for both the kids and adults. The procedure is performed under the supervision of a dental professional. The frequency of fluoride treatment usually depends upon the oral health status of the individual.

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Fluoride treatments improve the strength of the tooth enamel and reduce the incidence of tooth decay. However, certain risks are associated with fluoride treatments. Some of them include tooth discoloration, gum irritation, and allergic reactions. Today’s article will highlight the importance of professional fluoride treatment in protecting teeth from decay and cavity. Additionally, we will also discuss the in-office fluoride procedure, its benefits, and side-effects.

What is a fluoride treatment?

Professional fluoride treatment is a dental procedure performed by a dentist or dental hygienist. However, fluoride treatment can also be used at home as directed by the dentist for people at high risk of dental caries. Usually, the fluoride used in professional treatments is similar to the one found in fluoride toothpaste. However, professional fluoride treatments use a high concentration of fluoride in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish. (1)

Professional dental procedures are a quick and effective way of improving the health of the teeth and reducing the risk of tooth decay or cavity formation.

What are the benefits of professional fluoride treatment?

Fluoride is well known for protecting the teeth from the damaging effects of tooth decay. Some of the critical benefits of fluoride treatments are listed below –

  • The high concentration of fluoride binds with the tooth calcium and phosphate to repair the weak tooth enamel.
  • It strengthens the tooth structure and makes it resistant to bacterial acids in the mouth
  • It slows down the progression of dental caries
  • Reverses the early stages of tooth decay (2)
  • Prevents the premature loss of tooth
  • Prevents gum disease caused as a result of tooth decay
  • Reduces the amount of time and money a patient may have to spend for future repair of the damaged teeth

What are the side-effects associated with professional fluoride treatment?

Professional fluoride treatments use a high concentration of fluoride. However, these treatments are tailored to treat the dental conditions of both the kids and adults without causing harm to their oral health. Fluoride treatments are one of the safest options to reduce tooth decay as compared to unsupervised use of fluoride at home. But like any other dental treatment, patients may experience mild side-effects as listed below –

Tooth discoloration

Tooth discoloration is the most common side-effect that appears as white streaks or lines on the surface of the tooth. Tooth discoloration usually occurs when the patient exceeds the daily fluoride intake. For example, a patient who regularly consumes fluoride supplements in addition to fluoride toothpaste. (3)

According to the World Health Organization, the daily fluoride intake should be around 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. It is essential to keep a check on the daily fluoride intake, especially when you are planning to undergo a fluoride treatment.

Gum irritation or Allergic reactions

Often people are not aware of their fluoride allergy. In such cases, allergic reactions may lead to skin and gum irritation. Dentists are the best professionals to identify the symptoms of fluoride allergy in a patient and save them from the misery of irritation and discomfort.

Professional fluoride treatments for kids and adults

Before understanding the procedure followed during fluoride treatment, let’s look at the fluoride treatment recommendations for kids and adults, as stated by the American Dental Association.

  • Children – the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend fluoride treatment for children as soon as the permanent set of teeth begin to erupt in the mouth. Additionally, the dentists should repeat fluoride treatments every 3-6 months, depending on the risk of tooth decay and cavity formation.
  • Adults – fluoride treatments for adults are required only if they are at a moderate to high risk of developing dental caries or cavity. Usually, in such cases, professional fluoride treatment twice a year may suffice.

Fluoride treatment

Typically, two types of fluoride formulations are used in professional treatments – 2% Sodium fluoride and 1.23% acidulated phosphate fluoride.

  • These formulations can be used in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish. For the gel and foam formulations, the dentist uses a disposable tray that is placed on both the arches for at least four to five minutes. (4)
  • Fluoride varnish is usually painted on the tooth surface and allowed to dry for one to four minutes. The varnish can be double-coated depending on the risk of dental caries. (5)
  • Home-based treatments contain a low concentration of fluoride as compared to in-office fluoride gels. It usually comprises a gel in a tray system that the patient has to apply on the arches and keep it in place for four to five minutes as instructed by the dentist. (6)

Are fluoride treatments worth the cost?

Topical fluoride treatments are one of the best and most effective means of reducing dental caries and cavity in both the children and adults. Fluoride treatments are very economical. Moreover, it saves you from spending more money on expensive cosmetic dental procedures that you may require to treat the damaged tooth. (7)

Dental insurance usually covers the cost of fluoride treatments for children. However, adults may have to pay a minimal charge of $10 – $50 out of their pocket. It is best to always ask the dentist about the insurance coverage and cost of the fluoride treatment.

Take away message

Fluoride is a well-known natural mineral that has proven its effectiveness in protecting the teeth from tooth decay and cavity formation. In this commercial world, fluoride is available in various forms, such as fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash, fluoridated water, salt, and milk. Another way to fulfill your dental fluoride requirements is by getting a professional fluoride treatment.

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Fluoride treatments offer a wide range of benefits that are excellent for people at a high risk of tooth decay and cavity formation. Although these treatments are entirely safe, they may have minimal side-effects like tooth discoloration, gum irritation, and allergic reactions.

It is always better to consult a dentist and discuss the need for fluoride treatment. Do not ignore your dental health as it may lead to long-lasting damaging effects.

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