Should Kids Get Fluoride Treatments?
Fluoride is a natural mineral substance that helps to prevent dental decay by hardening and remineralizing tooth enamel. Fluoride helps children's teeth properly develop before they erupt. It also strengthens bones.
While fluoride is safe for children, some parents are concerned about its use. Pediatric dentists reassure parents that in-office fluoride treatments are safe, effective, and can help prevent severe dental health issues in later life.
How Fluoride Works
Bacteria living in our mouths cause tooth decay. These bacteria consume food left behind on the teeth, especially sweet or starchy items. As the bacteria process the sugar, they release acid that damages tooth enamel. As tooth enamel breaks down, your child's teeth will be vulnerable to decay.
Fluoride repairs acid damage in a process called remineralization. Fluoride works with calcium and phosphate ions to rebuild the enamel, making it less acid-soluble than before.
In-Office Fluoride Treatments
In-office fluoride treatments are safe for children six months and up. The most common form of fluoride treatment is a varnish that the dentist or hygienist paints on the teeth. This varnish hardens and sets upon contact with saliva, lowering the chance that the child could accidentally swallow it.
Gels and foams are great for older children and adults. The dentist or hygienist gives these preparations in a molded tray. They come in many flavors.
Advantages of Fluoride Treatment
Lowers the Risk of Tooth Decay
In-office fluoride treatments are highly effective against tooth decay. When combined with a proper at-home care routine, you can help your child maintain positive oral health.
Repairs Some Existing Decay
In some cases, fluoride can even reverse the effects of small areas of decay.
Helps Prevent Costly Dental Treatments
When your child has regular fluoride treatments, they will be less likely to need procedures like fillings later on.
Lowers Chances of Tooth Loss Later in Life
Decay can lead to tooth loss. Preserving natural teeth carries many strong health benefits and saves the expense of tooth restorations in the future.
Other Fluoride Sources for Children
Children of ages six months and up can use fluoride toothpaste. Starting at age three, use a pea-sized amount. Under age three, use a dot of toothpaste the size of one grain of rice.
In many communities in the United States, municipal water supplies contain fluoride. In these areas, the rate of dental decay is significantly lower than in areas with non-fluoridated water.
If your area does not have fluoridated water, your dentist may prescribe fluoride supplements for your child.
Older children (over age six) can also use optional over-the-counter fluoride rinses with supervision.
Call Pediatric Dental Care
Fluoride treatment is a simple, inexpensive process that can greatly impact your child's oral health. Using fluoride treatment, you can protect your child from tooth decay today and the risk of severe dental problems later in life. Call one of our two Memphis, TN, offices to make an appointment for your child.