2/8/2018 11:57:42 PM

For individuals looking to correct a misaligned smile, it can be difficult to understand whether clear aligner trays or traditional metal braces provide the best benefit. Within the last 15 years, however, Invisalign® clear braces have become a widely popular solution for addressing orthodontic issues as well as enhancing aesthetics.

Below are some examples of the benefits that Invisalign has to offer.

Invisalign: How Does It Compare to Traditional Braces?

Conventional braces consist of metal brackets bonded to the surfaces of teeth, then guided into alignment with wires and rubber bands. Throughout treatment, braces are repeatedly tightened to achieve ideal uniformity. Traditional braces are not removable, so patients must be cautious of certain foods that can cause staining, particle buildup, or result in improper wire movement. Regular visits are necessary to ensure proper maintenance. Metal Braces are recommended for children, young teens, or patients with more significant misalignment issues.

Invisalign clear braces are smooth, virtually invisible plastic aligner trays. They are custom designed to correct mild to moderate misalignment while ensuring they are as comfortable as possible when being worn. The treatment process includes a series of trays gently shift teeth into the correct positioning, and are updated every two weeks. These clear aligners are usually recommended for responsible teens and adults that will comply with the recommended guidelines.

The Many Advantages of Invisalign

Aesthetics– In addition to being nearly invisible, Invisalign allows those undergoing treatment a discreet option for straightening teeth. The clear aligner trays are completely removable when attending significant social events as well.

Diet– Being able to remove the Invisalign aligner trays allows patients the freedom to eat or drink without worry. However, a proper diet rich in vitamins and nutrients is always recommended.

Hygiene– Patients do not have to stress about treatment altering their daily oral hygiene routine. The aligner trays can be removed for proper brushing and flossing.

Time– Another benefit of Invisalign is its’ minimal treatment time. Because these clear braces are designed for patients with mild alignment issues, a straighter smile is achieved with minimal treatment time.

Are You A Candidate for Clear Aligners?

Ideal applicants for Invisalign® clear braces are responsible teens and adults with healthy gums and teeth. Patients with mildly crooked teeth or overcrowding can benefit from clear braces.
After a thorough examination, you and your dentist can determine which orthodontic treatment is right for you.

At Solano Dental Group, Dr. Frank Chen and Dr. Judy Su are proud to offer Invisalign for addressing your misalignment issues and enhancing your dental aesthetics.
If you are interested in clear aligner treatment, call or visit our Fairfield, CA office today!

8/28/2017 7:00:00 PM

For decades, dental health professionals have expressed that the health of your gums is just as important as the health and appearance of individual teeth. While many patients are more concerned with whether teeth are white and straight, neglecting periodontal care can lead to health and aesthetic complications of gum disease.

At Solano Dental Group, we want our patients to be informed and consider all aspects of their oral health so they can achieve strong and beautiful smiles. We have created this guide to help patients better understand how gum problems can progress and impact wellness, as well as which treatments can alleviate symptoms.


Gingivitis is the mildest and most common form of periodontal disease. It’s caused by bacteria in plaque that build up along gum line, causing the appearance of puffy and irritated soft tissue. Damage in this early stage of gum disease is minimal, as infection has not spread to teeth roots and underlying bone.

Gingivitis is treatable with a combination of professional cleanings and thorough at-home care. Using medicated mouthwashes, antibiotics, and following your dentist’s instructions allow gums to heal. You can start by brushing and flossing more regularly, coupled with altering your diet to reduce the amount of sugary foods. It is recommended to swish several times a day with a mouthwash specifically designed to treat gingivitis.


The symptoms of gingivitis often go unnoticed, if they are not particularly bothersome. Without treatment, gingivitis develops into periodontitis. Plaque and bacteria move below the gum line, deepening periodontal pockets, causing tissue recession and pulling soft tissue away from teeth. In this stage, teeth may look a bit longer than usual.

Treatment for periodontitis typically includes root scaling and planing to clean teeth thoroughly. While grafts are not always applicable at this stage, patients who are concerned about tissue recession can explore their options for restoring the aesthetic of soft tissue through grafting procedures.

Advanced Periodontitis

When patients do not seek treatment when gum disease is in its initial stage, infection moves beyond the soft tissue and starts to affect the bone. Teeth can loosen and shift and bone begins to deplete.

While this stage of the condition is serious, there are still procedures that can boost your health and improve aesthetics. If our team notices that periodontitis has severely compromised dental wellness, we can go over suggestions for care that can include treatment from a specialist, as well as restorations provide by our general dental office.

Ask Solano Dental about Treatment Options and Preventive Care

Only a professional can treat gum disease and monitor your dental health to ensure that symptoms do not return. If you are experiencing signs of gum infection, no matter what stage, contact our office as soon as possible for your evaluation.


10/13/2015 7:00:00 PM

While removable dentures have greatly improved the lives of many by allowing people with tooth loss to keep their smile, there are drawbacks to these prosthetics. Removable dentures can make eating your favorite foods more difficult and often require frequent adjustment to remain comfortable.

With the invention of permanent, or fixed, dentures, dental patients have more options to improve their quality of life, as well as their oral health and function. Permanent dentures are held in place by dental implants, making them stronger dental restorations overall.

Why Choose Implant Dentures?

Permanent dentures offer several advantages to removable dentures. As people are increasingly living well into their 70s or 80s, the need for stable dentures has become more important than ever. Removable dentures often lack the stability and comfort that patients desire, and don’t look as natural as permanent dentures.

With permanent dentures you will:

• Look more natural. Permanent dentures look like your own teeth. No one will know you are wearing dentures.
• Enjoy your favorite foods. With removable dentures, some foods are difficult to eat, causing your teeth to slip, or rub uncomfortably on your gums. With permanent dentures, your teeth are strong and stable so you can bite and chew with confidence.
• Save time with less maintenance. Permanent dentures don’t require messy creams or adhesives for daily application and cleaning; just brush regularly and follow a good oral hygiene regimen to maintain your implant dentures and your oral health.
• Have strong, beautiful teeth for life. Permanent dentures are an investment in life-long oral health. Because they’re held in place with dental implants, which stabilize jaw bone density, your new dentures will better support jaw health and overall oral function.

If you have removable dentures and are interested in stabilizing your teeth with dental implants, call our office at 707-428-1000 for your consultation.

9/29/2015 7:00:00 PM

Invisalign® is a popular way to correct your smile without the heavy metal braces most of us are familiar with from our middle school years.  While treatment with clear braces has risen rapidly in popularity over the last decade, many patients still wonder: does Invisalign® actually work to straighten your teeth?

The short answer is yes – Invisalign® successfully treats a range of orthodontic problems, like crowded teeth, gapping between teeth, and misaligned bites.

The Same Conservative Results as Braces

Both clear braces and metal braces use gentle pressure to move your teeth into position. Braces do this with brackets and wires. With clear braces, your aligner trays are molded into a shape of your smile, with the position of teeth slightly shifted toward their goal with each new tray. By popping the tray in, gentle pressure is exerted on teeth in the same way as traditional braces, to move them into the shape of the aligner.

Because both systems produce pressure that moves teeth, clear braces and metal braces are able to successfully straighten teeth, improve bite alignment, and make your smile look more appealing.

Keep in Mind: Diligence Matters

The trade-off between metal braces and Invisalign® is your commitment to wearing your clear aligners. Metal braces are bonded to the front of your teeth, so they’re working 24/7 to move you toward your goal. However, Invisalign® is removable and some patients forget to wear their aligners as often as they should. Invisalign® should only be taken out only during meal times and to brush and floss your teeth. Total hours of daily wear should be 22, every day.

Each Patient, and Invisalign® Dentist, is Different

There are some extreme orthodontic cases that require metal braces to achieve best results; however most patients who want to straighten their teeth only have moderate problems, which Invislaign® is capable of addressing. It’s important to know that each patient case, and dentist, is different – and only a qualified Invisalign® dentist is able to help you achieve best results.

Dr. Chen has more than nine years of experience with Invisalign® and can offer a specialized treatment approach that works. If you have questions about clear braces, call our office today for your consultation.

9/15/2015 7:00:00 PM

Any dental injury that causes extreme discomfort is serious and shouldn’t be ignored. Delaying treatment for dental emergencies can increase the risk of permanent damage and could also result in more expensive treatments. Here are a few tips for dealing with common dental emergencies before you can be seen by Dr. Chen:

Chipped or broken tooth – Be sure to save any pieces of your tooth, if possible. You should gently rinse your mouth with warm water and remove any remaining broken pieces. In the event of bleeding, apply pressure with a piece of clean gauze until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the affected area to keep any swelling down and relieve pain. Call our office immediately to schedule treatment.

Lost filling – Use over-the-counter dental cement as a temporary measure. Call us immediately, as lost fillings that are not properly replaced can cause infection and pain.

Abscess – A dental abscess in the result of an infection and is a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth.  Infection can also spread to other parts of the body, if left untreated. To ease discomfort and clean the affected area, try rinsing your mouth with a mild salt water solution. Abscesses are very serious, so please call our office as soon as you can for treatment.

Avulsed (knocked-out) tooth – It’s not uncommon to lose a tooth as the result of everyday activities, like playing sports. Knocking out a tooth requires prompt treatment to protect your oral health. If you can, try putting the tooth back in your mouth. If there’s too much swelling or discomfort to do this, put your tooth in a cup of milk – being careful not to touch the roots, only the crown. See a Dr. Chen as soon as possible. There’s a chance that your organic tooth can be replaced, preventing the need for prosthetics.

At Solano Dental Group, our team is available to treat emergency dental concerns. We can assist with a wide scope of problems, such as damaged teeth, tooth infections, cracked teeth, gum disease, abscess, or lost fillings. Our Fairfield dental office is open late and offers convenient Saturday hours. If you’re suffering from a dental emergency call us for immediate assistance. 707-428-1000.

9/21/2014 12:38:29 AM

ARESTIN® makes scaling and root
planing (SRP) more effective

Confront your gum disease with an antibiotic treatment

If you have periodontal (gum) disease, SRP is needed to help improve the health of your teeth and gums. Bacteria are the cause of gum disease. That’s why your dental professional may recommend ARESTIN®. It is an antibiotic that helps kill bacteria at the root of the problem. Take your dental professional’s advice—choose ARESTIN®.

Image of periodontal (gum) disease treatment

ARESTIN® with SRP is more effective than SRP alone

Your dentist places ARESTIN® in the pockets below your gumline. This may happen at the time of SRP or on a follow-up visit. You may also receive ARESTIN®during routine periodontal maintenance.

Getting treatment is easy

Your dentist will place these microspheres into infected areas after completing SRP. ARESTIN® will dissolve on its own, so no removal is required.

ARESTIN® is different from
antibiotic pills

ARESTIN® is different from an antibiotic you take as a pill, because it’s placed right where you need it. A pill can’t give you the level of antibiotic concentration in your gums that ARESTIN® can.

Image of ARESTIN(r) treatment for periodontal (gum) disease

Microspheres release antibiotics
over time

ARESTIN® contains microspheres—tiny particles—that are smaller than grains of sand and are not visible to the eye. The microspheres are filled with the antibiotic minocycline hydrochloride. These microspheres release the antibiotic over time, killing bacteria so your gums can heal better than with SRP alone.

See gums heal over time

What to expect as your gums heal

After ARESTIN® with SRP, there are a few things you need to know. Follow these tips on caring for your teeth. With proper dental hygiene, it’s possible to avoid future problems with your gums.

– See more at:

7/10/2014 12:48:54 AM

Look for the ADA Seal—your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and effectiveness by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.


Toothbrush design and materials have come a long way. Early forms of the toothbrush have existed for nearly 5000 years. Ancient civilizations used a “chew stick,” a thin twig with a frayed end. The sticks were rubbed against the teeth to remove food. In the past 500 or so years, toothbrushes were crafted with bone, wood or ivory handles that held the stiff bristles of hogs, boars or other animals. The nylon-bristled toothbrush as we know it today was invented in 1938. For more intriguing details about the history of toothbrushes, see Library of Congress.

Why brush?

Tooth brushing plays an important everyday role for personal oral hygiene. Brushing helps remove food and plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that can irritate the gums. Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar. Brushing is more difficult when tartar collects above the gum line. As a result, the irritated gum tissue may swell or bleed. This is called gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease.

Need tips on brushing?

What kind of toothbrush should I buy?

There are basically two types of toothbrushes: manual and powered. The ADA recommends that you buy the one that you will use and one that displays the ADA Seal of Acceptance. A company earns the ADA Seal for its product by producing scientific evidence that the product is safe and effective. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates the evidence according to objective guidelines for toothbrushes (PDF). To qualify for the Seal of Acceptance, the company must show that:

All of the toothbrush components are safe for use in the mouth
Bristles are free of sharp or jagged edges and endpoints
The handle material is manufacturer-tested to show durability under normal use
The bristles won’t fall out with normal use
The toothbrush can be used without supervision by the average adult to provide a significant decrease in mild gum disease and plaque
In addition to the above, powered toothbrushes must meet the requirements of a safety laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. The manufacturers of powered toothbrushes must also provide evidence from at least one clinical investigation (research using human volunteers) to show the product is safe for both soft and hard oral tissues and dental restorations.

The size and shape of the brush should fit your mouth comfortably, allowing you to reach all areas easily.

Is a powered toothbrush better than a manual?

Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth. Children may find that brushing with a powered toothbrush is fun. Persons who have difficulty using a manual toothbrush may find a powered toothbrush easier to use or more comfortable. Whether you decide on manual or powered, choose a toothbrush that you like and find easy to use, so that you’ll use it twice a day to thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your teeth.

Why look for toothbrush brands that display the ADA Seal?

The Seal assures you that the product has been evaluated by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, for safety and effectiveness according to objective guidelines. Products with the prestigious ADA Seal must say what they do and do what they say.

When’s the best time to brush?

The ADA recommends brushing twice a day and cleaning between teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner once a day. Some patients prefer to floss in the evening before bedtime so that the mouth is clean while sleeping. Ask your dentist if you would benefit from more frequent tooth brushing.

Should I brush or floss first?

The sequence makes no difference as long as you do a thorough job of removing plaque (a film of bacteria that forms on teeth). One way to tell if you’ve done a thorough job is by using plaque disclosing tablets or solutions. They are available in the dental product aisle at pharmacies and other stores. The tablet is chewed after brushing and releases a harmless dye that mixes with saliva over the teeth and gums. The red dye will color plaque that was not removed when you cleaned your teeth. After you rinse your mouth with water, check your teeth to identify pink-stained areas (un-removed plaque). A small dental mirror may help.

How can I keep my toothbrush clean?

Thoroughly rinse toothbrushes with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow the toothbrush to air-dry until used again. If more than one brush is stored in the same holder or area, keep the brushes separated to prevent cross-contamination.

Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment such as a closed container is more conducive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.

Replace toothbrushes every 3–4 months. The bristles become frayed and worn with use and cleaning effectiveness will decrease. Toothbrushes will wear out more rapidly depending on factors unique to each patient. Check brushes often for this type of wear and replace them more frequently if needed. Children’s toothbrushes often need to be replaced more frequently than adult brushes.

What products have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance?

Get a Complete List of ADA Accepted Toothbrushes
Additional Resources

Statement on Toothbrush Care: Cleaning, Storage and Replacement
Toothbrush care, cleaning and replacement (PDF)
Cavity Prevention Tips From the American Dental Association (PDF)
How to brush (PDF)
What you should know about bad breath (PDF)

2/10/2014 11:52:17 PM

Video to show how to brush with Proxabrush:

2/10/2014 11:49:31 PM

Choosing a toothpaste

What kind of toothpaste should you choose

Tartar control. Baking soda. Whitening action. With so many toothpastes on the supermarket shelf, how do you choose the one that’s most effective?

“A toothpaste with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance is the easiest way to know the product has been thoroughly tested, is effective and has the proper mix of ingredients,” says Ken Sutherland, DDS, a Delta Dental dentist consultant.

For most patients, Dr. Sutherland recommends a fluoride, tartar control toothpaste with the ADA seal. Most experts agree that as long as your toothpaste contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of approval, the brand you buy doesn’t really matter. All toothpastes with fluoride work effectively to fight plaque and cavities. Of course, they also clean and polish tooth enamel.

Why is fluoride important?

Fluoride is a mineral that helps harden teeth and prevent tooth decay. It occurs naturally in small amounts in all water sources. Studies show that fluoride reduces cavities in people of all ages and is effective and safe when used correctly. The correct use of fluoride has been said to have dramatically reduced tooth decay over the past few decades.

Check for the ADA seal

For 70 years, the American Dental Association (ADA) has awarded its “Seal of Acceptance” to dental products that are safe and effective.

The seal generally is awarded for a three-year period, and manufacturers must reapply to continue using it. If the composition of an accepted product changes, the manufacturer must resubmit the product for review and approval.

In addition to information submitted by manufacturers, the ADA has more than 100 consultants and staff scientists who review oral health products and their effectiveness to determine whether they meet ADA standards. Today, nearly 400 dental products available to consumers carry the ADA seal, including toothpaste, dental floss, mouth rinses and toothbrushes.

In June of 2007, the FDA issued a poisonous toothpaste alert for any toothpaste made in China that could possibly contain the deadly chemical diethylene glycol. You can check dental products to make sure that they contain the ADA seal, which ensures that they have been tested and found to be safe from harmful chemicals.

Special needs and personal preferences

Some factors that go into choosing a toothpaste are usually personal preferences, such as flavor, whitening, tartar control and price. If you have small children, you might want to try some fun, flavored children’s fluoride toothpaste. When deciding on toothpaste, you may also want to consider any special needs that you have such as sensitive teeth or dentures. Those with special needs should also consult their dentist.

  • Sensitive Teeth. If you have sensitive teeth from gum recession or tooth abrasion, you may need a toothpaste without heavy abrasives. You can also choose a desensitizing paste with either strontium chloride or potassium nitrate as an added ingredient. Expect it to take about four to six weeks to see improvement in sensitivity.
  • Tartar Control. Brands of toothpaste that advertise “tartar control” usually have the active ingredient pyrophosphate. While it will not remove tartar, studies have shown it will reduce tartar formation up to 36 percent. Tartar (calculus) can only be removed with a professional prophylaxis (cleaning).
  • Abrasiveness. Many types of toothpaste now contain baking soda, which is less abrasive than traditional toothpaste ingredients. This is advantageous for reducing tooth sensitivity in people with gum recession or for those who have eroded their teeth by rigorous brushing with abrasive toothpaste.
  • Whitening. Bleaching teeth to make them lighter has recently become popular. Whitening toothpastes help maintain the tooth shade after bleaching procedures. If you want the benefits of a whitening toothpaste, look for the active whitening agents of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Dentures. If you wear partial or full dentures, they will stain and absorb odors. Ask your pharmacist or dentist to recommend an effective denture cleaning paste or solution.

Why is brushing with toothpaste important? Academy of General Dentistry.Toothpaste: ADA seal of acceptance. American Dental Association.Choosing a toothpaste. Delta Dental Plans Association..

11/23/2013 1:14:38 AM

Facts About Fluoride

Cavities used to be a fact of life. But over the past few decades, tooth decay has been reduced dramatically. The key reason: fluoride. Research has shown that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and adults. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Unfortunately, many people continue to be misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is like any other nutrient; it is safe and effective when used appropriately. This article will help you learn more about the important oral health benefits of fluoride.

Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter

Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, even the oceans. The fluoride ion comes from the element fluorine. Fluorine, the 17th most abundant element in the earth’s crust, is never encountered in its free state in nature. It exists only in combination with other elements as a fluoride compound.

Fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of dental caries (tooth decay). Researchers have shown that there are several ways through which fluoride achieves its decay-preventive effects. It makes the tooth structure stronger, so teeth are more resistant to acid attacks. Acid is formed when the bacteria in plaque break down sugars and carbohydrates from the diet. Repeated acid attacks break down the tooth, which causes cavities. Fluoride also acts to repair, or remineralize, areas in which acid attacks have already begun. The remineralization effect of fluoride is important because it reverses the early decay process as well as creating a tooth surface that is more resistant to decay.

Fluoride is obtained in two forms: topical and systemic. Topical fluorides strengthen teeth already present in the mouth making them more decay-resistant. Topical fluorides include toothpastes, mouthrinses and professionally applied fluoride therapies.

Systemic fluorides are those that are ingested into the body and become incorporated into forming tooth structures. Systemic fluorides can also give topical protection because fluoride is present in saliva, which continually bathes the teeth. Systemic fluorides include water fluoridation or dietary fluoride supplements in the form of tablets, drops or lozenges.

Sources of fluoride

Community water fluoridation is an extremely effective and inexpensive means of obtaining the fluoride necessary to prevent tooth decay. Studies prove that water fluoridation continues to be effective in reducing tooth decay by 20 to 40 percent.

Leading health organizations, including the American Dental Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry support community water fluoridation based on the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence, which continues to establish that it is safe and effective. Water fluoridation reduces tooth decay in both children and adults.

Return to Top

How much fluoride is in your water?

If your water comes from a public or community water supply, contact the local water supplier to determine the fluoride level. You can also check your local, county or state health department.

There are two Internet sites that also supply information. One is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s web (EPA) site for water quality reports (calledConsumer Confidence Reports). Another is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) fluoridation Web site, “My Water’s Fluoride.” For those states that have provided information to the CDC, the agency’s Web site lists fluoridation status by water system.

If your water source is a private well, it will need to be tested and the results obtained from a certified laboratory. Contact your local or state health department for information about where you can have a water sample tested.

Return to Top

Water Quality Reports

In 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began requiring water suppliers to put annual drinking water quality reports into the hands of their customers. Water Quality Reports, (or Consumer Confidence Reports—CCRs) typically may be mailed to your home, placed in the local newspaper or made available through the Internet around July 1 each year. To obtain a copy of the report, contact your local water supplier. The name of the water system (often not the name of the city) can be found on your water bill. If the name of the system is unknown, contact the local health department.

Although the EPA does not have the authority to regulate private drinking water wells, the agency recommends that private well water be tested every year. And although the EPA does not specifically recommend testing private wells for fluoride levels, health professionals will need this information before consideration of prescription of dietary fluoride supplements or to counsel patients about alternative water sources to reduce the risk of fluorosis if the fluoride levels are above 2ppm.

The ADA offers a comprehensive, well-researched publication, Fluoridation Factsthat contains answers to frequently asked questions regarding community water fluoridation.

Answers to the questions in Fluoridation Facts are based on generally accepted, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence. They are offered to assist policy makers and the general public in making informed decisions. The answers are supported by thousands of credible scientific articles, which include more than 350 references.

As a result of the widespread availability of these various sources of fluoride, the decay rates in both the U.S. and other countries have greatly diminished.

Return to Top

The proper mix is key

It is important to note that the effective prevention of dental decay requires that the proper mix of both forms of fluoride (topical and systemic) be made available to individuals. Your dentist can help you assess whether you are receiving adequate levels of fluoride for all family members from the two forms (topical and systemic).

Topical Fluorides


One method of self-applied topical fluoride that is responsible for a significant drop in the level of cavities since 1960 is use of a fluoride-containing toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends that children (over two years of age) and adults use a fluoride toothpaste displaying the ADA Seal of Acceptance or consult with a child’s dentist if considering the use of toothpaste before age 2. Other sources of self-applied fluoride are mouthrinses designed to be rinsed and spit out, either prescribed by your dentist or an over-the-counter variety. The ADA recommends the use of fluoride mouthrinses, but not for children under six years of age because they may swallow the rinse.


Professionally-applied fluorides are in the form of a gel, foam or rinse, and are applied by a dentist or dental hygienist during dental visits. These fluorides are more concentrated than the self-applied fluorides, and therefore are not needed as frequently. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, tray-applied gels or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Systemic Fluorides

Systemic fluorides such as community water fluoridation and dietary fluoride supplements are effective in reducing tooth decay. These fluorides provide topical as well as systemic protection because fluoride is present in the saliva.

Community Water Fluoridation

Fluoride is present naturally in all water sources. Community water fluoridation, which has been around for over 50 years, is simply the process of adjusting the fluoride content of fluoride-deficient water to the recommended level for optimal dental health. That recommended level is 0.7 parts fluoride per million parts water. Water fluoridation has been proven to reduce decay in both children and adults. While water fluoridation is an extremely effective and inexpensive means of obtaining the fluoride necessary for optimal tooth decay prevention, not everyone lives in a community with a centralized, public or private water source that can be fluoridated. For those individuals, fluoride is available in other forms.

Dietary Fluoride Supplements

Dietary fluoride supplements (tablets, drops or lozenges) are available only by prescription and are intended for use by children ages six months to 16 years living in nonfluoridated areas and at high risk of developing tooth decay. Your dentist or physician can prescribe the correct dosage. It is based on the natural fluoride concentration of the child’s drinking water and the age of the child (see chart). For optimum benefits, use of dietary fluoride supplements should begin when a child is six months old and be continued daily until the child is 16 years old. The need for taking dietary fluoride supplements over an extended period of time makes dietary fluoride supplements less cost-effective than water fluoridation; therefore, dietary fluoride supplements are considerably less practical as a wide-spread alternative to water fluoridation as a public health measure. Fluoride supplements are recommended only for children living in non-fluoridated areas and at high risk of developing tooth decay.

It is important to note that fluoridated water may be consumed from sources other than the home water supply, such as the workplace, school and/or day care, bottled water, filtered water and from processed beverages and foods prepared with fluoridated water. For this reason, dietary fluoride supplements should be prescribed by carefully following the recommended dosage schedule (see chart). Dietary fluoride supplements are not recommended for children residing in a fluoridated community.


No matter how you get the fluoride you need—whether it be through your drinking water, supplements, toothpaste, mouthrinse or professionally applied fluoride—you can be confident that fluoride is silently at work fighting decay. Safe, convenient, effective…however you describe it, fluoride fits naturally into any dental care program. For more information about the oral health benefits of fluoride, just ask your dentist.

Return to Top