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Fluoride Provides Seniors Affordable Dental Benefits

By Susan Braden

tap water affordable dental benefits for seniors

The cost of dentistry procedures rises incrementally each year. Along with this rising cost, another concerning fact is that a large number of senior citizens without any coverage need affordable dental care. There are a number of ways to help seniors bring down the cost of their dentistry, including connecting them to a low cost discount plan and encouraging them to improve oral hygiene by consistent brushing and flossing. Many people have heard about fluoride, but aren’t exactly sure it can benefit your dental health. Let’s answer a few basic questions around the topic of fluoride.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is known to slow the early stages of tooth decay. Thus your dentist will typically apply fluoride to your teeth surfaces during your regular cleanings. Also, when you drink from the tap, this substance incorporates with the structure of your teeth. Fluoride originates from the element fluorine, a common element that exists in water sources. The easy availability of fluoride in tap water makes it one of the most affordable tooth treatments available, because seniors don’t need to pay for any special kind of liquid to receive fluoride’s teeth-strengthening benefits!

Should I Use Fluoride?

Yes. As plaque builds up on your teeth, the acid it produces can dissolve your enamel. Fluoride helps negate this process, and also allows teeth that have been damaged by acid to somewhat repair themselves. The good news for seniors looking for affordable dental protection is that tap water contains fluoride.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that almost 60% of U.S. citizens receive fluoride through the taps in their homes, which makes fluoride’s affordable oral benefits available to many seniors – as close as their kitchen sinks! A 2007 study by faculty of the Indiana University School of Dentistry found in a sample of children, adults, and senior citizens that while all three groups benefited from the consumption of water containing fluoride, seniors needed less fillings and appeared to benefit the most.

“Our finding that fluoridated water lowered the number of dental fillings confirms studies on younger people but breaks new ground on older individuals. While those we studied had dental insurance, many older adults, who are often retired, don't have dental insurance and so prevention of decay is very important. Community water fluoridation is a sound public health investment for people of all ages," said Dr. Maupomé, scientist and B.D.S., M.Sc., Ph.D., of the Indiana University School of Dentistry.

How Can Fluoride Protect My Teeth?

As mentioned earlier, fluoride has the ability to naturally strengthen the enamel around your teeth. This process is called remineralization. Fluoride can also help reverse tooth decay in its early stages. Because people so often eat or drink things that can erode the protective coating around their teeth, remineralization is a helpful process to keep teeth healthy. Using fluoride along with other good dental habits such as flossing and brushing daily, will prevent cavities and tooth decay. If children drink water that contains fluoride, it can actually help the development and strength of their permanent teeth.

Is Fluoride Harmful?

Like most chemicals, fluoride is completely safe when used properly. Fluoride in excessive amounts is thought to be hazardous. While some locations have fluoride in their water systems, the levels are checked daily to maintain safety. Parents should always monitor the use of fluoride products at home.

How Do I Use Fluoride?

Dental Products. Fluoride is available for use in dental products such as toothpaste and mouthwash. Make sure to pick up a product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance - this is how you can tell if it contains fluoride. Follow the directions of use on the package.

Drink Water. In some locations, fluoride has been added to the public water supplies. To find out if your water is fluoridated, try contacting the community water district near you.

Visit the Dentist.To prevent cavities and tooth decay, dentists can apply fluoride directly onto your teeth. Just ask your dentist! As you continue to improve your dental health, consider using fluoride products to strengthen your teeth and prevent dental issues.

As the cost of dentistry continues to increase, senior citizens on a fixed income are seeking out avenues to secure affordable dental care. Many will look to low cost dental plans or affordable dentists in their area. While these options are vital, seniors can also improve their oral health by the water that they choose to drink. Fluoridated tap water, rather than bottled, provides the necessary fluoride needed to strengthen and protect their teeth from decay.

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