|Mark H. Freedman, DDS
1023 Pulaski Rd. East Northport, NY 11731
What is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that prevents tooth decay when ingested during tooth
development, and topically when applied to erupted teeth.
Topical fluorides strengthen teeth already present in the mouth. Fluoride is incorporated into the
surface of the teeth making them more decay-resistant, and less sensitive to hot and cold.
How Does Fluoride Reduce Tooth Decay?
Fluoride's decay preventive effects work 3 ways;
1) It makes enamel more resistant to decay by converting hvdroxyapatite (which is a major part
of both tooth enamel and bone) into stronger fluorapatite;
2) It reduces the ability of dental plaque bacteria to produce decay causing acid;
3) It promotes the remineralization or repair of tooth enamel in areas that have been attacked by
acids. This remineralization effect offluoride is very important. Fluoride ions at the enamel
surface result in fortified enamel that is not only more resistant to decay, but enamel that can
repair early decay or small cavities caused by acids from decay-causing bacteria.
Statistically, researchers reported reductions in decay due to fluoride application ranging from:
40-49% for primary teeth or baby teeth; and 50-59% for permanent teeth or adult teeth.
Should All Children Have Fluoride Treatments?
If your child is old enough to tolerate the fluoride tray in their mouth, they will benefit from the
decay reducing effect of fluoride. This is especially true here on Long Island where our water is
What About Teenagers and College Students?
We find a large amount of cavities in teenagers and college students occasionally even
progressing to root canals. Teenagers and especially college students living away, often have
poorly balanced diets high in sugar from fast foods, candy and soda, and less than ideal oral
Do Adults Benefit from Fluoride?
Fluoride plays a protective role against dental decay throughout life.
Another protective benefit for adults is the prevention of root decay. Adults with gumline
recession are at risk for root decay because the softer root surface becomes exposed to decay-
causing bacteria in the mouth. Studies have demonstrated that fluoride is incorporated into the
structure of the root surface, making it more resistant to decay. Older people are particularly
susceptible to root decay. In the over 75 age group nearly 56% have had root decay Older
adults tend to experience decreased salivary flow, or dry mouth, due to the use of medications
or medical conditions and the aging process. Inadequate saliva flow places an individual in the
high risk category for decay.Saliva contains many elements necessary for early
decay repair- especially fluoride.
Does Everyone Need Fluoride?
No. Adults with few dental restorations, good oral hygiene, no recent cavities, gum recession,
sensitivity or periodontal disease, who eat a balanced low sugar diet may not require
supplemental fluoride treatments.
How is the Fluoride Applied?
In our office, a tray filed with a thick fluoride gel is placed over the top and bottom teeth for one
to four minutes. A suction tip is also
placed in the mouth so any fluoride that runs out of the tray and any saliva is suctioned out
rather than swallowed. At the end of the treatment you may expectorate, but please do not
rinse, eat or drink for twenty minutes, so the fluoride will have the maximum effect. Two
treatments per year are recommended.
Will my Insurance Pay for Fluoride Treatments?
All insurance companies pay for children. Some pay for adults, especially if used for
desensitization. Whether or not they pay has no relationship to whether or not fluoride is
needed. Remember, insurance companies make money by collecting more in premiums than
they pay in claims. The fewer procedures they cover, the more money they make. Their policies
are written to make sure that occurs. We will always do our best to maximize the insurance
benefits you are entitled to.
What if I have a Severe Problem with Decay, Root Cavities, Dry Mouth or Sensitivity?
In addition to office fluoride treatments, we may recommend a prescription high fluoride
toothpaste. This is usually covered by your medical insurance prescription plan.
Should My Child take Fluoride Vitamins?
Multi-vitamins containing fluoride are generally recommended for children 12 and under
especially without fluoridated water. These vitamins are are available in either chewable tablets
or liquid. They work systemically while the teeth are forming to make the enamel stronger and
more decay resistant. Ask us or your child's pediatrician for a prescription or more information.