Topical Fluoride

Calgary Topical Fluoride Studio

Topical fluoride is a well-known treatment to reduce the risk of dental caries/cavities. It is effective because topical fluoride is directly taken up by the enamel of your teeth, rendering it a much stronger surface that is resistant to the acid created by certain types of bacteria in the mouth. There are several different forms of topical fluoride, some which are applied professionally, and others which are self-applied. The difference between the two lay mostly in the concentration of fluoride.

Professionally Applied Fluoride

Increasing efficiency, effectiveness, and comfort

Fluoride Varnish

At the end of your dental hygiene service, your dental hygienist may apply a high concentration fluoride varnish to the surfaces of your teeth with a small brush. It is hardened to your teeth when it comes in contact with your saliva so that it can maintain contact with the tooth for several hours. It often feels like there is a film left on your teeth, which is easily brushed off later that day.

Fluoride Rinse

A professionally applied topical fluoride rinse is a higher concentration of fluoride compared to self-applied versions. Completed at the end of your dental hygiene service, you will swish the rinse in your mouth for one minute until you spit it out.

Dentist giving Fluoride Rinse to the patient

Self-Applied Topical Fluoride

At home topical fluoride

girl brushing her teeth with Fluoridated toothpaste

Fluoridated toothpaste

Most toothpastes on the market are fluoridated. There are highly concentrated options for toothpastes as well, however it is important to discuss these options with your dental hygienist to determine which is best suited for you. Your dental hygienist can also explore other fluoride-free options with you as well if that is your preference.

Fluoridated mouth rinse

While there are many mouthwashes on the market, many that contain some amount of fluoride, the recommended ones which contain therapeutic levels of fluoride are ones with 0.05% (for daily use) or 0.2% (for weekly use).


Frequently Asked Questions

The frequency of in-studio topical fluoride treatments recommended by your dental hygienist is based on several factors, including your risk of cavities, degree of sensitivity, and presence of tooth decalcification.

In general, we do recommend using fluoridated toothpastes at home. However, based on your individual preferences and risk factors for decay, your dental hygienist will discuss fluoridated and non-fluoridated at-home methods to help reduce the risk of cavities and re-mineralize your teeth.

Most people tolerate topical fluoride treatments without any side effects. If you have experienced an upset stomach from it in the past, talk to your dental hygienist about other options that can be used to reduce your risk of cavities.

Like Calgary dentists, we follow the Alberta Dental Fee Guide – most insurance companies consider this a reimbursable fee at your pre-determined frequency.

Absolutely! Undergoing orthodontic treatment makes homecare significantly more challenging for you, and it is common to see signs of decalcification, or “white spots”. Topical fluoride treatments help to re-mineralize your teeth.

If you have had a negative reaction to topical fluoride in the past, talk to your dental hygienist about other ways we can re-mineralize your teeth and reduce the risk of cavities.

The presence of fluoride in city water is an on-going debate and the presence of it in the water can change overtime, which we have seen frequently in Calgary. The presence of fluoride in city water benefits children the most, as ingested fluoride has a different mechanism of action than topical fluoride. Topical fluoride strengthens teeth that are already present in the mouth, making them more resistant to decay, while ingested fluoride is incorporated into the structures of teeth while they are still forming (before they have erupted into the mouth). Ingesting fluoride also benefits adults because the fluoride become a component of the saliva, allowing some topical effect for the erupted teeth as well. Regardless of whether or not fluoride is in the city water, topical applications can only enhance the ability to reduce the risk of dental cavities.