Healthy teeth are key in ensuring your child is healthier and happier. Your pediatric dentist may recommend fluoride treatment in order to prevent tooth decay and maintain healthy teeth.
Fluoride is a compound that contains fluorine, a natural element. Fluoride inhibits loss of minerals from tooth enamel and encourages remineralization, which can strengthen areas that are weakened and beginning to develop cavities. Fluoride also affects bacteria that cause cavities and discourages acid attacks that break down the tooth. Risk for decay is reduced even more when fluoride is combined with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene.
Topical fluoride is a preventative agent applied to tooth enamel. Your pediatric dentist considers many factors before recommending fluoride treatment. Children who benefit the most from fluoride are those at highest risk for decay. Risk factors include a history of previous decay, a diet high in sugar or carbohydrates, orthodontic appliances, and certain medical conditions such as dry mouth.
What to Expect
Fluoride treatment comes in a number of different forms. A dental professional may place gels or foams in trays that are held against the teeth for up to 4 minutes. Fluoride varnish is brushed or “painted” on the enamel. Varnish is especially useful for young patients and those with special needs who may not tolerate fluoride trays.
Using fluoride for the prevention and control of decay is proven to be both safe and effective. Fluoride can also be found as an active ingredient in many dental products such as tooth paste, mouth rinses, gels, and varnish. Nevertheless, products containing fluoride should be stored out of the reach of young children. Too much fluoride could cause fluorosis of developing permanent teeth. Fluorosis is usually mild, with tiny white specks or streaks that are often unnoticeable. Development of fluorosis depends on the amount, duration, and timing of excessive fluoride intake. Your pediatric dentist can help determine if your child is receiving and not exceeding the recommended amount of fluoride.