Slow-release fluoride devices: a literature review

J Appl Oral Sci. Jul-Aug 2008;16(4):238-46. doi: 10.1590/s1678-77572008000400003.


Although the prevalence of caries has decreased dramatically over the past decades, it has become a polarised disease, with most of subjects presenting low caries levels and few individuals accounting for most of the caries affected surfaces. Thus it become evident for the need of clinical approaches directed at these high-risk patients, in order to overcome problems related to compliance and low attendance at dental care centres. Slow-release fluoride devices were developed based on the inverse relationship existing between intra-oral fluoride levels and dental caries experience. The two main types of slow-release devices - copolymer membrane type and glass bead - are addressed in the present review. A substantial number of studies have demonstrated that these devices are effective in raising intra-oral F concentrations at levels able to reduce enamel solubility, resulting in a caries-protective effect. Studies in animals and humans demonstrated that the use of these devices was able to also protect the occlusal surfaces, not normally protected by conventional fluoride regimens. However, retention rates have been shown to be the main problem related to these devices and still requires further improvements. Although the results of these studies are very promising, further randomised clinical trials are needed in order to validate the use of these devices in clinical practice. The concept of continuously providing low levels of intra-oral fluoride has great potential for caries prevention in high caries-risk groups.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cariostatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Dental Caries / prevention & control*
  • Dental Enamel Solubility / drug effects
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation*
  • Durapatite
  • Fluorides, Topical / administration & dosage*
  • Glass
  • Humans
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Polymers
  • Polymethacrylic Acids


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Fluorides, Topical
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Polymers
  • Polymethacrylic Acids
  • methylmethacrylate-methacrylic acid copolymer
  • Durapatite