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Why adults need fluoride

July 28, 2021
Do your adult patients know that the prevalence of dental caries increases with age? Fluoridated mouthwash is an affordable, simple way to prevent painful and costly dental events.

Fluoride mouth rinses are an understated and important component in home care. We have a responsibility to recommend protective fluoridated products and help adults understand their benefits.

Mouth rinses such as those created by Act are excellent options for any adult. Patients respond well to the recommendation of mouth rinses because they are easy to use and inexpensive. Many are concerned about the cost of  in-office fluoride treatments and may be skeptical of the higher dose of fluoride that varnishes offer. For these reasons, patients may be more open to investing in an OTC mouth rinse. While in-office fluoride treatments are valuable, the recommendation of a fluoride mouth rinse may be appealing to apprehensive patients. It can also be helpful for those who are not able to make routine appointments due to the pandemic and other factors.

Many of our adult patients may not know that they face increased risk factors as they age and the importance of fluoride in a daily dental routine. We should help educate patients on these risk factors and familiarize ourselves with the types of mouth rinses and why we should recommend them.

Xerostomia caused by medication, radiation therapy, or idiopathic reasons plagues many adults. Two of the most common culprits of medication-induced xerostomia are psychiatric and blood pressure medications. Approximately 15.8% of adults in the US took medication for mental health in 2019.1 Additionally, most of the 87 million adults in the US who have hypertension are told to take medication and make lifestyle changes to get it under control.2 Adult patients may not know that the lack of saliva can affect their dental health, so recommending a mouth rinse like Act Anticavity Dry Mouth Mouthwash can help. It contains seven effective moisturizers to provide immediate comfort, and two hydrating polymers to coat oral mucosa and lock in moisture­—plus, it has fluoride.

Oral pH and anatomical factors are also reasons for adult patients to have fluoride exposure. Grazing on foods and sipping on beverages throughout the day throws off oral pH and can lead to erosion and decay; a pH-balanced mouth rinse can help. Additionally, many adults have areas of gum recession that leave root surfaces vulnerable to caries.

Exposed root surfaces are softer than enamel and are more prone to developing caries, especially when home-care practices are not sufficient. Rinses such as Act Restoring can remineralize without demineralization, protecting teeth from acid erosion and providing needed fluoride.

We should assess patient risk factors and dental habits to justify why adding a fluoride mouth rinse to their home-care routine is beneficial. Recommendations are most effective when placed in the context of why the product will help them. Here are some simple examples of this:

“Mr. Johnson, you mentioned that you feel like your mouth is dry since starting that new medicine. I am concerned you could develop some cavities because saliva is important for protecting your teeth. I recommend that you try…”

“Mrs. Smith, I am sorry that the dentist found a couple of new root cavities. I understand you are upset, and I want you to know that you will be all fixed up before long. Do you mind if we talk about one small thing that you can do at home to prevent more of these cavities from forming? I recommend you purchase…”

Clinicians should not shy away from educating and encouraging adults to use fluoride. Using patients’ current oral health status when guiding them toward fluoridated products such as Act mouth rinse can be beneficial in helping to prevent new caries and strengthening enamel. This small monetary and time investment can help patients save money, discomfort, and frustration. 


  1. Terlizzi EP, Zablotsky B. Mental health treatment among adults: United States, 2019. NCHS Data Brief. 2020;(380):1-8. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db380-H.pdf
  2. Estimated hypertension prevalence, treatment, and control among U.S. adults. Million Hearts. Accessed January 27, 2021. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/data-reports/hypertension-prevalence.html