Fluoride is a natural mineral occurring on the earth that has been proven to halt existing cavities from growing larger and prevent further cavities. Fluoride is administered in 2 ways, topically and systemically. Topical fluoride consists of fluoride added to products such as toothpaste, mouth wash and fluoride treatments art your dental office. Systemic fluoride consists of fluoride being added to the municipal water supply in trace amounts. The difference between these two types of fluoride is that one is a topical application, which means a higher dose because it will be spit out and not ingested.
Water fluoridation is supported by many organizations such as The World Health Organization, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Canada and the Canadian Dental Association. In Canada, fluoride began being added to the water supply around 1945. Around 45% of the Canadian population has fluoridated water, and the ideal concentration of fluoride in drinking water is considered to be 0.7 ppm (parts per million.) Water fluoridation has proven to decrease cavities greatly and is thought to reduce cavity risk in the population by 2/3 compared to populations who don’t have fluoridated water.
Topical application of fluoride can come from over the counter products such as toothpaste and mouth wash, or from fluoride treatments professionally applied in a dental office. There are several different types of fluoride administered in a dental office such as APF, which is 1.23% or sodium fluoride, which is 2% or fluoride varnish with is 5%. Each fluoride has its unique benefits and will be selected on an individual need. Topical fluoride can be administered in a rinse, foam or gel. Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash usually has a lower dose of fluoride, under 1%, to be used topically at home. It is important not to eat, drink or rinse your mouth for 30 minutes after topical fluoride for the best results. Talk with your dentist or dental hygienist about which fluoride treatment will work best for you.