When dentists recommend fluoride applications, it’s because fluoride can play a key role in strengthening teeth and preventing tooth decay. Some people get enough fluoride from municipal water systems that add a small amount of it to the water in the interest of public health.
Fluoride, a mineral found naturally in food and water, works by preventing tooth enamel breakdown that can occur when teeth are exposed to sugar or to the acids that some oral bacteria secrete. Generally, fluoride fortifies the enamel as the mineral is absorbed into it.
However, in the cases where people rely on non-fluoridated well water or live in places where the public water supply is not fluoridated, dentists may suggest in-office fluoride applications. The procedure, during which a dental professional applies a fluoride-rich gel or foam to the teeth, is simple and noninvasive.