The benefits of fluoride for caries prevention


  Posted by: Dental Design      10th July 2023

Caries is a growing problem in the UK, with a Public Health England survey suggesting that 27% of people had tooth decay in 2018.[i] However, it is thought that, in more recent years, levels of caries have increased both in the UK[ii] and globally.[iii] With many patients struggling to access dental services, some patients are having difficulty receiving treatment for oral diseases.[iv] Research suggests that current levels of caries could be around 1 in 3.[v] It is very important that patients have a good understanding about how to properly maintain their oral health, and have access to the appropriate oral hygiene resources to do this effectively.

Rising caries levels

Levels of caries in the UK are likely to be on the rise for a number of reasons. These include reduced access to dental services, which could become even more of a challenge with the UK government’s plan to cut a further 10% from the NHS dental budget.[vi] In addition to the impact of COVID-19, and changes in diet. Many patients in the UK are finding it difficult to access regular dental and hygiene appointments, with research suggesting that 2 million UK adults have to travel at least 40 miles for dental care access. This has a big impact on disease prevention, as patients’ oral health and hygiene is not able to be monitored as closely. COVID-19 also had a big impact on patients’ behaviour, including increases in the purchase of sugary food during and after the first national lockdown.ii Consuming high levels of sugar puts people at a higher risk for developing caries. This is particularly dangerous when patients are not being regularly monitored for the disease in its early stages. If left until the patient is in pain, they could expect to undergo endodontic treatment or extraction.

The benefits of fluoride

To minimise the effects of caries on your patients, it is important to educate them on the need to maintain high standards of oral hygiene. Research suggests that 25% of UK adults do not brush their teeth twice per day using a fluoride toothpaste, and one in three have never flossed or cleaned interdentally.v These statistics are worrying as effective oral hygiene routines are key for preventing oral disease. The use of oral care products which contain fluoride are particularly helpful for preventing caries development.[vii] And ensuring that patients properly understand how to use these products, being sure to remove plaque and not to rinse after using a fluoride toothpaste,[viii] is crucial for optimising protection from disease.

Fluoride both inhibits the demineralisation, and facilitates the remineralisation of enamel, controlling carious lesions. It also impedes the activity of acid producing bacterial plaque.[ix] Even if fluoride is only available in low levels in the mouth, it is able to remineralise the enamel. When introduced to the mouth every day through toothpaste, for example, mineral loss is delayed and carious lesions are less likely to develop. Research even suggests that brushing using a fluoride toothpaste is able to protect areas not reached by the

Supplementary fluoride in high-risk patients

In England, millions of people receive water which contains around 1mg of fluoride per litre of water. This amount is thought to reduce levels of tooth decay,vii with the chance of 5-year-olds developing caries 25% lower in areas with fluoridated water than those without.[x] However, it is important to recommend that patients also use a toothpaste which contains fluoride, to ensure that they are accessing sufficient levels to impact caries prevention. For some patients, it may be helpful to recommend additional measures. These may include applying a fluoride varnish in practice, which is able to protect the teeth for several months,[xi] and advising patients to apply preventative gels which contain fluoride, for extra protection in hard-to-reach and high-risk areas.vii

TANDEX offers a range of oral hygiene tools to encourage consistently high standards of oral hygiene. PREVENT GEL is an ideal oral hygiene supplement for your patients who need an oral health boost. The solution contains chlorhexidine, for an antibacterial effect, as well as fluoride to strengthen the teeth and protect against cavities. PREVENT GEL can be easily applied to interdental spaces and root surfaces using the FLEXI range of interdental brushes.

The use of fluoride in oral hygiene is essential for reducing patients’ risk of caries development. It is important that, when patients visit the practice, they are advised on how to carry out effective cleaning, and which products are most appropriate for them. Some patients may be more susceptible to oral disease than others, so be sure to offer or recommend supplementary preventative measures where appropriate. This will help to prevent the development of oral diseases like caries, and reduce the numbers of patients needing treatment for the condition.

For more information on Tandex’s range of products,
visit or visit the Facebook page:

Our products are also available from CTS Dental Supplies and DHB Oral Healthcare

Author Kimberley Lloyd- Rees on behalf of Tandex

Kimberley graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2010, where she now works as a clinical tutor in Dental Hygiene and Therapy as well as working in practice. She has spent her career working across a variety of specialist private and mixed dental practices, for the MOD and volunteering her time to a dental charity in Nepal.

[i] Public Health England. National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England Oral health survey of adults attending general dental practices 2018. Accessed March 23.

[ii] Stennett, M., Tsakos, G. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on oral health inequalities and access to oral healthcare in England. Br Dent J 232, 109–114 (2022).

[iii] World Health Organization. Oral health. Accessed March 23.

[iv] BBC. Full extent of NHS dentistry shortage revealed by far-reaching BBC research

[v]  National Smile Month. Oral health statistics in the UK. Accessed March 23.

[vi] British Dental Association. Government set to take 100s of millions from NHS dentistry during access crisis. Accessed March 23.

[vii] Tenuta, Livia Maria Andaló, and Jaime Aparecido Cury. “Fluoride: its role in dentistry.” Brazilian oral research 24 (2010): 9-17.

[viii] NHS. Fluoride. Accessed March 23.

[ix] Arifa MK, Ephraim R, Rajamani T. Recent Advances in Dental Hard Tissue Remineralization: A Review of Literature. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2019 Mar-Apr;12(2):139-144. doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1603. PMID: 31571787; PMCID: PMC6749882.

[x] New report confirms fluoridation can reduce tooth decay among children. Accessed March 23.

[xi] Fluoride Varnish: Frequently Asked Questions. Accessed March 23.

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.