In dentistry, fluoride can be administered in two ways to prevent tooth decay, especially among children: Systemically and Topically.
This means fluoride which is introduced directly into our human body’s system. This is indicated only in regions where the water supply is deficient of fluoride. The ideal concentration of fluoride which is beneficial for our oral health is 0.7-1.0 ppm. Fluoride below or more than the optimum level is harmful to our health.
Fluoride supplementation can be done in the following ways:
Fluoridation of water supply- Failure to adjust levels of fluoride in drinking water may lead to fluorosis in the population.
Fluoridation of common salt
Sodium fluoride tablets/lozenges/drops- These are administered in areas where mass water fluoridation does not occur or actually is not possible. This is required particularly for children and infants. These also provide local application of fluoride on the teeth. This should be done in a guided way, after measuring the fluoride levels in the local water supply, to avoid fluorosis.
Fluoride can also boost immunity to tooth decay when applied locally/directly onto the teeth. This decreases the risk of fluorosis and can be administered without measuring the fluoride levels in drinking water or food.
Fluoride can be applied by the subject himself every day or applied on the dental chair every 6 months.
Topical fluoride can be used in the following ways-
Fluoride toothpaste- This is the most common method among people. Most commercial kinds of toothpaste contain the salt sodium mono-fluorophosphate at the concentration of 0.76%. This is the best salt form of fluoride.
Fluoride mouthwash- Sodium fluoride (0.1%) or Stannous fluoride (0.055%) are incorporated in most mouthwashes. Stannous fluoride is more effective than sodium fluoride, but it can stain the teeth.
Professionally applied fluoride- Brief and intensive fluoride application can be done in the dental office.
i) Acidulated phosphate fluoride (APF)- A dentist can achieve high fluoride
Diffusion by using this in solution or gel form in disposable tray applicator. This
Should not be swallowed by the subject and it should be rinsed off properly.
ii) Fluoride varnishes- These are not water soluble and cannot be washed off.
This is retained for a longer time when painted onto the teeth.
Fluoride should always be used in a regulated manner to avoid fluoride toxicity. The adverse effects of fluoride will be discussed in the next article.