As we grow older, we lose some of the enamel that protects our teeth, putting us at increased risk for tooth decay. Oral health problems, such as gum disease, root decay, and tooth loss, are unfortunately common in seniors. (1)
Thankfully, good oral health care can help to reduce the risk of tooth decay and other dental issues. Brushing and flossing teeth twice a day helps to remove plaque, preventing tartar from building up on teeth. Since the risks are high, it’s especially important for elderly adults to look for a toothpaste with fluoride.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that can be found in soil and rocks. It’s added to many substances, including water and toothpaste, because of the health benefits that it provides. While it plays an essential role in the oral health of children under the age of seven (2), it can help protect teeth of any age.
When plaque builds up on teeth, it can use the foods and drinks you consume to produce acid. Because plaque is sticky, those acids cling to teeth, causing significant damage. Fluoride is able to lower the amount of acid produced by plaque, reducing tooth decay. (3)
Furthermore, using a toothpaste with fluoride can help to protect and restore teeth. Not only does it prevent demineralization, which can erode teeth, but it also encourages remineralization. It’s normal for seniors to experience a loss of dental enamel as they age, but fluoride can help to slow that process. (4)
Do Seniors Need to Use Fluoride Toothpaste?
Since seniors can benefit greatly from the protective capabilities of fluoride, many dentists recommend that older adults use a toothpaste with at least 1,000 ppm of fluoride. If possible, older adults should use for a 5,000 ppm fluoride toothpaste. (5) Most toothpastes sold in stores have a ppm between 1,000 to 1,500, which means patients may want to ask their dentist to recommend a toothpaste.
It’s possible to check the fluoride content of a toothpaste by looking at the side of the tube. Seniors may want to look for a toothpaste that offers other benefits as well, such a product that’s designed for sensitive teeth or products that also contain other ingredients that can help restore tooth enamel, like hydroxyapatite.
Brushing twice a day is important no matter what, but the right toothpaste will deliver better results. Elderly adults should look for a fluoride toothpaste that can restore enamel and help prevent cavities.
Other Fluoride Treatments
For seniors that are unwilling to switch to a fluoride toothpaste, dentists may also recommend using a tray with fluoride gel. Trays are designed to fit the teeth, ensuring proper fluoride delivery.
Dental treatments can be invasive, which is why a little prevention goes a long way. Because older adults are more prone to oral health problems, seniors should strongly consider a fluoride toothpaste. Using the right toothpaste could help to prevent a number of oral hygiene problems later down the line.