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Fluoride Treatment - Benefits, Side Effects, and Recommendations

Published on Jan 25, 2022 and last reviewed on Apr 12, 2023   -  5 min read


Fluoride prevents tooth decay by aiding in remineralization and fighting against harmful bacteria. Read below to know about fluoride treatment in detail.


Fluoride is a natural mineral responsible for building strong teeth and preventing cavities. The application of fluoride is essential for maintaining good oral health. Fluoride helps fight against cavity-causing bacteria and makes the enamel (outer layer of teeth) of teeth stronger. Fluoride treatments may offer significant benefits for teeth protection, but this does not mean it is suitable for everyone, as it has its own side effects. This article will discuss fluoride treatment, its uses, and its side effects.

When Is the Application of Fluoride Important?

Cavities occur when bacteria degrade the food particles, leading to plaque production on the tooth surface. Plaque causes the formation of acid on the tooth surface that erodes the enamel surface. It further causes the penetration of bacteria inside the tooth, leading to infection, which spreads and enters the bloodstream and nerves. Fluoride application is essential when an individual is prone to developing caries or at a high risk of developing caries.

The following conditions increase the risk of cavities:

Excessive use of drugs, alcohol, or cold drinks.

Eating disorders or increased exposure of teeth to glucose.

Poor oral hygiene.

Lack of professional dental care or irregular dental visits.

Poor diet.

A dry mouth or decreased salivary production makes the tooth more susceptible to caries.

Weak enamel.

What Happens During a Topical Fluoride Application?

Professional fluoride application treatment is carried out in the dental office.

Fluoride application can be carried out in various forms such as highly concentrated rinse, foam, gel, or varnish.

Topical fluoride can be applied with the help of a swab, brush, or tray. It is also available as a mouthwash.

In general, regular toothpaste and regular drinking water contain fluoride content in variable amounts.

The procedure of fluoride application takes only a few minutes, but it contains much more fluoride than regular drinking water or toothpaste. One should avoid eating or drinking water at least for 30 minutes after topical fluoride application to allow complete absorption of fluoride.

It is always advisable to give the entire health history to the dentist to prevent any probable side effects or complications. It also helps dentists in choosing the proper treatment plan for the patients.

Based on the American Dental Association and the oral condition of the patient, fluoride treatment is recommended every three to six months or 12 months. In individuals who are at high risk of cavities, then the dentist may advise them to use a fluoride gel or fluoride rinse regularly at home.

The most common sources of dietary fluoride include

  • Tea.

  • Water.

  • Food cooked in water.

  • Fishes that are consumed with their bones.

  • Infant formula.

The optimal fluoride intake comes from food, water, and supplements.

Recommended daily intake of Fluoride

What are the Recommendations for fluoride toothpaste in children?

  • 0-3 Years of Age: Brushing in these kids should be done under close supervision. Only a thin layer of toothpaste is recommended for children under three years of age. Only half of the bristles should be covered by the toothpaste, and the amount should not be greater than the grain of the rice.

  • 3-6 Years of Age: Fluoride toothpaste is recommended for children of this age, and the size of toothpaste should not be more than the size of a pea. It is recommended to ensure that the kid spits out the entire amount of toothpaste while brushing.

What Are the Advantages of Fluoride Treatment?

Fluoride has many benefits for dental health. The following are the advantageous effects of fluoride application on teeth:

1. Fluoride helps to increase mineral uptake by increasing the reabsorption by teeth, which helps repair weak tooth enamel.

2. When teeth are developing, it joins with tooth structure and strengthens enamel, making them less vulnerable to bacteria and the formation of cavities for a lifetime.

3. Fluoride slows down or even reverses the development of cavities by harming the cavity-causing bacteria.

So, overall, fluoride offers the following benefits for good dental health:

  • Decreases the risk of cavities.

  • Slows down the risk of caries progression.

  • Prolong the life of deciduous teeth.

  • Prevents the progression of gum disease.

  • Reduces the premature loss of teeth.

  • Decreases the damage to teeth and prevents further complications.

Therefore, it ultimately reduces the time and money an individual spends on the dentist.

What Are the Side Effects of Excess Fluoride?

Along with the benefits of fluoride, one should be aware of the adverse effects of excess fluoride. Like any other medication, excess fluoride intake than the prescribed dose causes harmful complications. Fluoride poisoning is very rare nowadays, but when there is chronic overexposure of dentition and the body to fluoride, it causes harmful effects on the developing bones and teeth in small children. The following are the effects of excess fluoride:

  • White specks on mature or developed teeth.

  • Staining and pitting on teeth, also known as mottling.

  • Bone homeostasis.

  • Dense bones that are not very strong.

  • Acute toxicity leads to nausea, diarrhea, tiredness, and excessive sweating. On the extreme end, it may lead to death, so fluoride should be kept out of reach for children.

What Are the General Measures to Maintain Oral Hygiene?

Oral health dramatically affects other bodily functions. Dental health is a mirror of overall health. The general measures to take good care of one’s oral health are as follows.

  • Brush the teeth twice a day for two minutes in the morning and at night.

  • Floss every day.

  • Avoid sugary snacks and beverages.

  • Avoid smoking.

  • Visit a board-certified dentist at least twice a year for routine dental checkups.


Fluoride application treatments are safe for most people. As mentioned above there are some side effects of fluoride applications, but they are minimal compared to the benefits. Side effects of fluoride come mostly from swallowing a large amount of fluoride. Individuals with a high risk of caries should discuss their concerns with the dentist and get fluoride application treatment done. Overdosing in fluoride, also known as fluoride toxicity, can cause adverse complications in children and in adults.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
12 Apr 2023  -  5 min read




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