Fluoride Treatments

Did you know that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is used to maintain oral health and prevent tooth decay in fluoride dental treatments? It fortifies dental enamel, increasing its resistance to acid assaults from plaque and germs. To offer a concentrated dosage of fluoride, topical fluoride treatments such as varnishes, gels, foams, and rinses are administered directly to the teeth. Fluoride concentrations are greater in professional fluoride treatments performed by dentists than in over-the-counter items.


Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance that builds and protects teeth. Experts feel that using fluoride from several sources is the best method to prevent cavities. Fluoride is present in tiny concentrations in naturally occurring water sources and foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and tea.1 Fluoride dental treatments are preventative procedures that improve tooth enamel and keep it from decaying. They can be applied topically as varnishes, gels, foams, or rinses or administered professionally by dentists. These treatments deliver a high concentration of fluoride, which strengthens teeth and makes them more resistant to acid assaults. Fluoride supplements may be given to people at high risk of tooth decay, particularly those living in non-fluoridated locations. To avoid fluorosis, it is vital to utilise fluoride treatments in moderation, and routine dental hygiene habits remain essential for preserving oral health.2

Benefits of fluoride treatments

Preventing tooth decay 

Fluoride protects teeth from decay by making the enamel more resistant to acid attack. They also hasten the formation of good minerals in the enamel, delaying the progression of deterioration. Fluoride has even been shown in studies to stop tooth decay that has already begun. 1

Strengthening tooth enamel

Fluoride is integrated into the tooth structure when present in the mouth, resulting in stronger and more resistant enamel. It enhances the remineralisation process, in which minerals like calcium and phosphate are drawn to the tooth surface and heal and reinforce damaged parts of the enamel. 

Reducing sensitivity

Fluoride in the form of a solution, gel, or varnish provides immediate and long-term relief from dentin and bleaching hypersensitivity. The chemical capacity of fluoride to decrease and block fluid movements in the dentin tubules via the development of calcium-phosphorus precipitates as well as calcium fluoride (CaF2) and fluorapatite is the main mechanism by which it relieves dentin hypersensitivity (DHS). 2

How do fluoride treatments work?

Topical fluoride treatment

Topical fluoride treatment is a frequent dental technique used to build tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is applied directly to the teeth in various forms, such as fluoride varnish, gel, foam, or mouth rinse. When fluoride is applied to the teeth, it binds to the tooth surface and gradually releases fluoride, creating a protective layer and strengthening the enamel against acid assaults. Topical fluoride treatments are a safe and effective way to maintain optimum dental health. Topical fluoride treatments include fluoride varnish, which is a highly concentrated fluoride coating applied to the teeth with a brush, and fluoride gel, which is placed on a tray or applied directly to the teeth and left on for a few minutes before rinsing.3

Systemic fluoride treatment

Systemic fluoride is an ingested fluoride that is absorbed mostly through the stomach and gut into the bloodstream and aids in the strengthening of teeth as they develop. The fluoride is transported to growing tooth buds, where contact with emerging crystals promotes the replacement of hydroxyapatite (the usual crystalline composition of tooth enamel) with fluorapatite (a similar crystal containing fluoride). Fluorapatite resists degradation better than hydroxyapatite. Systemic fluoride treatments include milk and water fluoridation.

Different forms of fluoride treatments

Fluoride mouthwashes contain a low quantity of fluoride that is swished around the mouth for a certain amount of time, usually one minute, before being spat out. They give an extra layer of fluoride protection and are frequently advised for people who are at a higher risk of tooth decay.

Individuals, particularly children, who live in locations with non-fluoridated water or are at high risk of dental decay are prescribed fluoride supplements. These supplements are used orally and come in the shape of drops, pills, or lozenges to guarantee systemic fluoride intake.

Fluoride toothpaste is a popular fluoride therapy for preserving good dental health. It is regarded as an essential tool for maintaining excellent oral health and avoiding dental disorders.3

Who can benefit from fluoride treatments?

Fluoride treatments are beneficial for: 

  • Youngsters, especially throughout their teeth's developmental phase because fluoride builds the enamel and protects against cavities
  • Individuals who are at high risk of dental decay, such as those who have a history of cavities, can also benefit from fluoride treatments to lower the risk of future decay
  • Elderly people may benefit from fluoride treatments to help preserve the strength of their teeth and avoid dental disorders linked with ageing
  • Fluoride treatments may be effective in giving extra protection to people who have dry mouths, which can lead to tooth decay
  • Fluoride treatments can help strengthen the enamel surrounding brackets and wires in orthodontic patients

Safety and risks of fluoride treatments

Side effects of fluoride treatments 

Fluoride treatments are typically safe, but like with any medical intervention, there is the possibility of negative effects. Fluorosis, which causes tooth discolouration ranging from faint white streaks to dark stains, can be caused by excessive fluoride ingestion during tooth growth. This is most common in youngsters who have taken high quantities of fluoride from a variety of sources. 

Large doses of fluoride, such as those found in fluoride supplements or accidentally consumed during treatment, can produce stomach distress, nausea, and vomiting. Fluoride treatments can cause allergic responses in certain people, albeit this is uncommon. Skin rash, itching, and swelling are all possible symptoms. Excessive fluoride exposure during tooth development can cause enamel abnormalities such as pitting or mottling of the tooth surface in rare situations. In such circumstances, prompt medical intervention is required.

Recommended fluoride intake 

The recommended intake of fluoride per day is 

Category Dosage per day 
Children below 6 years0.05mg-0.25mg
Children above 6 years1.0mg-4.0mg
Adults 1.0mg-4.0mg

Fluoride treatment procedures

Treatments available

Professional fluoride treatments

A dental practitioner often administers a concentrated fluoride varnish, gel, or foam directly to the teeth during a professional fluoride treatment. After cleaning and drying the teeth, the fluoride product is gently administered using a brush, tray, or swab. The fluoride treatment is applied to the teeth for a set period to allow for optimal absorption, and then it is washed or allowed to evaporate naturally.1

At-home fluoride treatments 

At-home fluoride treatments typically involve using fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse as part of regular oral hygiene practices.

Fluoride treatment frequency

Professional fluoride treatments may benefit children every 3, 6, or 12 months, whilst adults with a low risk of tooth decay may benefit from professional fluoride treatments every 6 to 12 months at normal dental appointments. Individuals with a higher risk of cavities or certain oral health concerns, on the other hand, may require more regular treatments.1


To summarise, fluoride dental treatments are helpful preventive strategies for oral health and tooth decay. Fluoride is applied in many forms such as varnish, gel, foam, or rinses. These treatments fortify dental enamel, making it more resistant to acid assaults caused by bacteria and plaque. Benefits include a lower chance of cavities, especially in youngsters and those at high risk. Fluoride treatments are typically safe, however, too much fluoride might cause tooth discolouration (fluorosis). Individual parameters are assessed by dentists to establish suitable therapy and limit potential dangers, guaranteeing optimal oral health benefits.


  1. Medjedovic E, Medjedovic S, Deljo D, Sukalo A. IMPACT OF FLUORIDE ON DENTAL HEALTH QUALITY. Mater Sociomed. 2015 Dec;27(6):395–8. [accessed 16 Jun 2023] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4733546/
  2. Petersson LG. The role of fluoride in the preventive management of dentin hypersensitivity and root caries. Clin Oral Investig. 2013;17(Suppl 1):63–71. [accessed 16 Jun 2023] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586140/
  3. How does the fluoride in toothpaste prevent cavities? Is there any kind of ‘natural’ fluoride protection, or is it only in artificial compounds? Scientific American. [accessed 16 Jun 2023] Available from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-does-the-fluoride-in/
  4. Marinho VC. Cochrane Fluoride reviews an overview of the Evidence on caries prevention with fluoride treatments. FDJ. 2014 Apr;5(2):78–83. [accessed 16 Jun 2023] Available from: https://publishing.rcseng.ac.uk/doi/10.1308/rcsfdj.2014.5.2.78
  5. Fluoride. NHS.uk. 2017. [accessed 16 Jun 2023] Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/fluoride/6.      Aoun A, Darwiche F, Al Hayek S, Doumit J. The Fluoride Debate: The Pros and Cons of Fluoridation. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2018 Sep;23(3):171–80. [accessed 18 Jun 2023] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6195894
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Prachi Gupta

Bachelor of dental surgery, Master of Public Health

Dr. Prachi Gupta is a distinguished dentist and accomplished public health professional with extensive experience. With a successful career spanning several years, she has demonstrated exceptional disease prevention and promotion expertise. Driven by a passion for improving community well being, she combines her health and safety proficiency with public health insights to promote holistic health. A dedicated advocate for overall wellness, she continues to positively impact lives through her roles in dentistry and public health.

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