Question: Do adults need fluoride treatments? My dentist wants to give me fluoride treatments, but do they really help at age 48? I don’t want to pay for it if it’s unnecessary. Answer: Typically, fluoride treatments end at age 14; that’s when insurance companies stop paying for topical fluoride treatments.
However, fluoride can help at any age. Let me explain why.
Fluoride is similar to calcium, except that it has an extra electron, and therefore is more willing to bond to tooth structure in the place of calcium. Of course, like calcium, fluoride is a hard substance that makes the tooth strong.
At age 48, if you have lots of crowns with leaky margins, areas of tooth erosion, or areas of abfraction (damaged areas of teeth with exposed dentin) then fluoride treatment can make these areas stronger, more resistant to decay, and less sensitive to hot and cold.
I myself use a paste made called Fuji MI Paste. It is the last thing I brush with before I go to bed and it has a prescription strength amount of fluoride in it to help remineralize areas of my teeth that have been demineralized during the day or are susceptible to decay.
In in our lives, we suffer certain dental maladies based on our age. As children, we get cavities. In our mid-adult years, we are susceptible to gum disease, and as we reach our older years, past age 50, the last big dental hurdle is root decay. That is why daily use of fluoride is a good idea. It can slow down and even prevent root decay.
Root decay can be debilitating because the root is softer than the enamel and it’s more accelerated than regular decay. Root decay can be more serious than regular decay because the distance from the nerve to the root is closer than the distance from the nerve to the biting surface of the tooth, which is where we got cavities as kids — making a root canal more likely to be needed in a shorter period of time.
The only remaining question is, should my dentist give me a dental treatment in the office, otherwise known as dental varnish, after a cleaning? I think in certain cases, this is a good idea, as the fluoride is best absorbed by these demineralized areas immediately after a thorough cleaning.
Depending on your need for this treatment, I highly recommend it in certain cases.
Hope that helps!
Mark Burhenne DDS