The Fluoride Debate

June 15, 2018

Fluoride is a controversial topic in the dental field, which is why we’ve chosen to discuss it this month. One of the most frequent misconceptions we hear about fluoride (which is perpetuated by insurance companies) is that only children will benefit from fluoride. Regardless of age, each individual has unique risk factors for developing cavities. Numerous studies have shown, when used as directed or when added to community water in the correct amounts, fluoride significantly reduces the incidence of cavities.

At each hygiene appointment, our team of hygienists at Ballard Dental Arts, are trained to evaluate and identify your risk for developing cavities. By determining this, we are able to recommend specific additional supplements based on individual needs that would benefit each patient. We always strive to provide individualized patient care; what works for one person does not work for everyone. See the table below for a list of risk factors that influence the likelihood of developing cavities.

Risk Factors for Developing Cavities
1. Active Decay
2. Visible Plaque
3. Exposed Root Surfaces
4. Three or more cavities in the last 36 months
5. Orthodontic Appliances
6. Dry Mouth
7. No Fluoride Exposure
8. Poor Dental Homecare
9. Failing Restorations
10. Special Needs
11. Chemo/Radiation Therapy
12. No Fluoride Exposure
13. Tobacco Use
14. Eating Disorders

In office topical fluoride application is often covered by many insurance companies twice per year. Unfortunately, many of those companies put an age limit on this coverage, usually somewhere between 14 and 21 years of age. This leaves out the majority of our population. After your hygienist has determined your risk for cavities, they may recommend in office fluoride treatment. If fluoride is not covered by your insurance, we believe you should consider paying for it. We find that fluoride treatment is a valuable tool in prevention of decay. We discount our fluoride treatment for those who don’t have coverage because we stand by that value.  Most people don’t look forward to hearing they have cavities, which is all the more reason to prevent them from starting in the first place!

Some of our at home fluoride recommendations may come in the form of a prescription fluoride toothpaste used once or twice per day or an over the counter fluoride mouthrinse such as ACT. For children, their dentist or pediatrician may recommend a systemic fluoride supplement in the form of tablets or liquid. This recommendation has a significant impact on developing teeth, and can strengthen them during growth. Systemic fluoride is particularly important for children whose primary drinking water is not fluoridated, including bottled or well water.

If you want to know more about the benefits of fluoride or your individual risk for cavities, speak with one of our team members at your next appointment. We enjoy educating our patients and are always happy to answer questions and share our knowledge with you! If you want to know if your community has fluoridated water, check out the CDC website or contact your water provider.



American Dental Association


Campaign for Dental Health



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