Fluoride is a naturally occurring element which helps to harden tooth enamel and make it more resistant to acid exposure. It helps protect against cavities (caries) and can reduce tooth sensitivity.
Topical (applied to the surface of the teeth) fluoride is generally recommended twice a year for children through their adolescent years to help prevent cavities. A dentist is the best person to assess the patient’s individual risk for cavities, and the developmental status of the patient’s teeth.
Topical fluoride supplementation is also recommended in patients who suffer from chronic dry mouth (xerostomia), generalized gingival recession, and sensitive teeth.
When fluoride is incorporated in the diet of young children (mainly through water fluoridation programs), the entire enamel thickness may be less porous. When applied topically, only the surface enamel benefits. However, surface fluoridation of the teeth is believed to be the most effective at reducing cavities.
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