Many people may not know it, but fluoride is not something specifically found in our toothpaste. In fact, it is a naturally occurring mineral. We have always been advised to use a toothpaste containing fluoride for stronger teeth and adults often receive fluoride treatments when required. In this article, however, we will discuss fluoride treatment for teeth in the case of children.
What is Fluoride?
It is a mineral that can be found in a variety of places, including rocks, plants, oceans, and groundwater. It is routinely added to communal water sources and oral health products because it is a proven approach to prevent tooth decay.
Why is Fluoride Required for Dental Health?
When children (or adults) eat or drink, bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugars and starches in the food and produce acids that erode the enamel, the protective coating of the teeth. Tooth decay, often known as cavities, can occur when the enamel breaks down.
Fluoride penetrates the enamel and strengthens it, making it more resistant to these acid attacks and even reversing early tooth decay. It also encourages remineralization, which is the process of minerals being redeposited into the enamel after acids have stripped them away (demineralization).
It is also integrated into the development of permanent teeth in younger children who still have their baby teeth. In this manner, the permanent teeth are less prone to cavities when they erupt.
Fluoride inhibits acid generation in adults and older children and, as previously stated, aids in remineralization. This means that fluoride can help people of all ages avoid cavities.
Drinking fluoridated water reduces cavities in children and adults by about 25%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fluoride is so effective at preventing tooth decay that the CDC has named it one of the top ten greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century.
What is Fluoride Treatment for Children?
During a dental fluoride treatment for children, the dentist applies topical fluoride to the kid’s teeth. Many dentists use a gel or fluoride tray the patient can bite into.
Nowadays, several dentists are also using fluoride varnish. This method is often preferred by dentists because it is faster and more tolerable as compared to other methods. Additionally, the varnish hardens quickly as it comes into contact with the saliva so the child is not able to lick or swallow it.
The dentist performs the treatment following a dental cleaning. It is painless and only takes a few minutes. The child can begin eating and drinking around half an after the treatment and should wait four to six hours before brushing.
Is Fluoride Safe for Children?
Many parents do not choose a dental fluoride treatment because of safety issues. When used in the correct dose, fluoride is safe for children. Too much fluoride (fluorosis) at a young age can indeed cause white spots or pitting of the enamel.
However, a dentist is always conscious of this fact and knows what amount is safe and appropriate for your child to maintain good oral health. Fluoridated water is endorsed by the American Dental Association (ADA) as well as World Health Organisation (WHO). You can read up on the information available through these platforms to learn more about fluoride for children.
A dentist will always examine your child’s teeth first and ask for details like what other sources are providing the child with fluoride (drinking water, tap water, toothpaste, etc.) before suggesting a treatment.
The treatment is usually considered necessary because most children are not getting enough fluoride, which puts them at risk of tooth decay quite early. A pediatric dentist can also guide the parents on how the child should use fluoride toothpaste.