Fluoride is a chemical that strengthens a tooth against cavities. It’s main effect is during topical use, that is why it is very effective in toothpaste and in fluoride mouthrinses and gels. In our office, we encourage the use of a fluoride toothpaste for all persons, starting at the age that a child is able to spit properly on command (ingestion of too much fluoride can be toxic, so a non fluoride toothpaste is advised for infants and young kids who cannot yet spit properly).
In our office, we apply a fluoride varnish onto adult teeth in kids as a preventive measure. Generally in adults it is not usually needed, unless the person has other conditions that increases their caries risk (eg. undergoing radiation treatment, a history of many cavities, living in a non-fluoridated area, etc).
For patients with a high caries risk, we will prescribe a fluoride mouthrinse. Since over the counter fluoride mouthrinses only come in lower concentrations (which means using it at least twice a day) and usually have a dye (which can stain the teeth), our doctors order clear fluoride mouthrinse at a high enough concentration to make it effective with only once a day use, and it is sold to our patients at cost. In some higher caries risk cases, custom made trays are made so a patient can use a fluoride gel.
Our office focuses on prevention of disease and not on treatment of disease. For this reason, our doctors stay up to date on the best way to utilize fluoride and other anti-cavity agents to help our patients stay cavity free.