Fluoride has significant health benefits for children and adults. Tooth decay is often problematic for middle-aged and older adults, especially decay around the roots resulting from a receding gumline.
Dental caries (cavities) is a disease that can be acquired at any point in a person’s life. Early studies showed that water fluoridation reduced the amount of cavities children get in their baby teeth by as much as 60 percent and reduced tooth decay in permanent adult teeth nearly 35 percent. Today, studies prove water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 20-40 percent, even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.
When ingested, fluoride is incorporated into the enamel of developing teeth before they erupt, making them more resistant to decay. After teeth erupt, topical fluoride continues to strengthen the tooth structure to further prevent decay by reversing the early stages of decay and promoting the remineralization of enamel. Fluoride also can markedly reduce decay occurring along the gum line and on root surfaces, which often occurs in older patients.