9 Things to Know About Topical Fluoride Treatment

By Premier Dental of Ohio

white teeth

You’ve probably heard of fluoride. Dentists recommend using a toothpaste with fluoride in it.  Over-the-counter mouth-rinses are available with fluoride as an active ingredient.

This article will focus on a type of fluoride, which is not available for purchase at your drug or grocery store: a professional fluoride treatment.

Professional fluoride treatments are prescription strength and topically applied. They are only administered by a dental professional and provide many great benefits for the teeth.

1. Fluoride is a natural mineral.

Fluoride is a mineral found in rocks, soil and water. It is the 13th most abundant element in the earth’s crust. Fluoride appears in natural ground water in varying levels, which is why some places have too much fluoride in their drinking water, and others have none.

2. Professional fluoride treatments are worth the cost.

No matter how much you pay for a topical fluoride treatment, the cost is worth it. It is significantly less expensive than the cost of repairing the tooth decay it can prevent. Professional fluoride treatment is a preventive therapy, which helps your body naturally fight cavities. By preventing tooth decay, you are lowering the amount of money you spend on dental care over your lifetime.

3. Fluoride fights cavities by strengthening enamel.

Our teeth are in a constant battle between demineralization and remineralization.


The bacteria in our mouths eat carbohydrates to produce acid. The acid weakens the surface of enamel, making it softer and more likely to decay. This process is demineralization.


The minerals in our saliva work to remineralize or harden and strengthen the enamel. The naturally occurring minerals in our saliva are calcium and phosphate. They are constantly working to remineralize enamel.

Fluoride amps up the remineralization process.

Cavities occur when there is more demineralization than remineralization. Fluoride increases the remineralization process, which prevents cavities from occurring.

4. Fluoride treatments are not just for kids!

Fluoride improves the remineralization process on any tooth surface. People of all ages are prone to cavities, not just children. Anyone with a high risk for cavities should receive professional fluoride treatments regularly.

Elderly patients who struggle with oral hygiene benefit from professional fluoride treatments. Because they are not able to effectively remove plaque from the teeth, elderly patients have an inherently higher risk for cavities. This risk is reduced by applying a professional fluoride treatment to the teeth every three or six months.

Patients with special needs who are not able to keep their teeth clean also experience a greater likelihood of cavities. To lower this risk, professional fluoride treatments offer a considerable advantage.

In addition to fighting cavities, fluoride also reduces tooth sensitivity. Many adults opt for professional fluoride treatments to alleviate the discomfort of sensitive teeth. Professional fluoride treatments can make dental cleaning much more comfortable for people who suffer from tooth sensitivity.

5. Professional fluoride treatments can reverse small cavities!

When demineralization outpaces remineralization, a cavity starts.  In its earliest stages, a cavity is called an incipient lesion. These early cavities can be arrested or stopped by professional fluoride treatments and excellent oral hygiene at home.

Who would not want to stop a cavity in its tracks? Preventing a cavity is so much better than allowing it to progress to a stage that requires dental work.

6. Professional fluoride treatments are safe.

Professional fluoride treatments are prescription strength. The dosage of fluoride in a professional treatment is supported by scientific studies, proving its effectiveness and safety. This dosage would not be safe if used at home on a daily basis.Research has shown that professional fluoride treatments are safe and effective at intervals as close as every 3 months.

There is a controversy about the safety of fluoride.  Its opponents claim that it is poisonous and causes an increased risk for bone fractures, cancer, and brain toxicity. A systematic review of all the published literature on the safety of fluoride found no correlation between fluoridation of water, milk or salt and topical fluoride treatments with an increase in bone fractures or cancer.

There is risk associated with fluoride intake. If too much fluoride is ingested (like a child swallowing a tube of prescription strength fluoride toothpaste), nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are likely to occur. As long as fluoride is used as directed by your dental and medical professionals, the risk is minimal.

7. Professional fluoride treatments do not stain teeth.

The stains associated with too much fluoride (called fluorosis) occur during tooth formation.  Fluorosis can happen when a pregnant mother drinks water with too much fluoride. The baby’s teeth will be affected and have dark brown or splotchy stains on his or her teeth.

This cannot occur after teeth are formed, which means teeth treated with professional fluoride are not at risk for staining.

8. Professional fluoride treatments do not hurt.

A professional fluoride treatment might be the simplest treatment you will ever get in a dental office. A fluoride varnish is painted onto the teeth with a small brush. Sometimes a tray filled with fluoride gel or foam applies fluoride to the teeth for 1-2 minutes.

There is nothing invasive and no pain.

9. You can eat and drink after a fluoride varnish treatment.

Some professional fluoride treatments require a waiting period of 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything. Fluoride varnishes adhere to the teeth for hours, and no waiting period is required. You may eat or drink immediately following its application.

If you have received an application of fluoride varnish to your teeth, wait until bedtime to brush your teeth. You do not want to brush the varnish off!

Are you interested in a professional fluoride treatment?

Whether you have a high risk for cavities or sensitive teeth, a professional fluoride treatment may be just what you need. Call your local Premier Dental office today to schedule a consultation with one of our doctors to discuss the specific benefits a fluoride treatment would provide for you.

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