Adjuncts

The use of fluoride and antimicrobial products should be considered as part of the treatment options for the older patient.

Fluoride
Photo showing toothpaste with fluoride.
Fluoride formulation penetrates the tooth to help fight cavities, strengthen weak spots, and reverse the early stage of tooth decay.

The use of a sodium fluoride dentifrice is imperative in light of the prevalence of root caries in the older adult. Studies indicate patients over the age of 50 can expect, on average, one new surface of root caries every year. Clinical trials have demonstrated the value of sodium fluoride as a preventive agent against root caries and as a remineralization agent for incipient root caries.

Prescription higher concentrated fluoride gels, for example 1.1% sodium fluoride, has shown increased effectiveness in remineralization of root caries. Studies by Barsan et al. showed conversion from soft to leathery, and from leathery to hard, occurs more frequently with a 5000 ppm fluoride compared with conventional 1100 ppm. Educating our medical and nursing colleagues at all levels to refer at-risk individuals who may need higher concentrated fluoride is an important goal for the dental team.