Fluoride in the water The most effective way to use fluoride is to have it incorporated in the tooth while it is forming. Most of the water systems in the greater Seattle area now add fluoride to our drinking water. Check with your water company to be sure. There was one study done in Seattle where they compared the amount of decay in children today with the children 10 years ago. The children today, that had grown up with fluoride, have 1/10 as much decay If you live in a nonfluoridated area, your children should be taking fluoride drops or vitamins with fluoride daily until their teeth have stopped forming, about age 15.
Fluoride toothpastes We recommend that all of our patients use a fluoride toothpaste. Use whichever one you like the taste of, but be sure that it has fluoride. This has been shown to decrease the amount of decay patients will have by about 30%.
Fluoride mouth rises Mouth rinses are of no help in cleaning a mouth and have only a very short effect on the taste or freshness of your mouth. In short they are a waste of money. Several mouth rinses, however, have added fluoride. They contain 1/20 of 1% fluoride. These will cut decay by about 30% if used daily. Their effect is additive to the fluoride in toothpaste. If you use a fluoride toothpaste and rinse you will decrease decay by about 50%. If children use these it is important that they are old enough to rinse and then spit. It is not a good ideal to swallow these because of the fluoride and the amount of alcohol they contain.
Fluoride in the dental office We use a fluoride polishing paste on all our patients when we clean their teeth. We also apply a fluoride gel to all of our younger patients. This works better than home treatments because of the polishing paste and the fact that our gel is acidulated. It, however, would be unwise to use this everyday because the paste is more abrasive than toothpaste and the gel is acidulated.
Fluoride gel home treatment We are prescribing a stronger, 1%, fluoride gel for many of our patients. It has helped with decay prevention as well as to desensitize sensitive root surfaces. This is brushed on just prior to going to sleep at night. There is some evidence it will also help with periodontal conditions. Several studies have shown a decrease in bleeding problems with the use of fluoride gels and rinses.
Prenatal fluoride There has been one study that has shown that if expectant mothers take supplemental fluoride from their third month of pregnancy to the time of their baby's delivery their child will have very little decay in their primary teeth. We have copies of the study which you may have. I will be happy to prescribe the extra fluoride after we check with your obstetricians.